For as long as I can remember, I have always been proud to be a lefty. I mean, come on, you have got to admit being a lefty is pretty cool. Left-handed people constitute ten percent of the total world population. This means that for every ten people in a room, there is one lefty.
In school, I was always assigned to sit to the left of someone so I wouldn’t bump arms with my neighbor. I reveled at the thought that I am more creative and better at multitasking than my right-handed peers, even though I am more likely to have migraines, allergies, and dyslexia. I loved knowing that famous people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Aristotle are all left-handed.
But it has not always been an easy ride to be a lefty. I remember being four and I was handed a colored pencil to draw something. It was placed in my right hand, but I instinctively moved it to my left hand. I remember getting a stern reprimand for this until my dad jumped up and said that I was not being disobedient. I was being a lefty. This is when I first realized that I was left-handed. This was when I first realized that I was different from everyone else.
I remember going to school and feeling ashamed because I could not use the scissors that were in the classroom. I tried and tried and tried to use them to cut paper but I couldn’t. I think there must have been maybe one left-handed scissor (if any) in the classroom. The right-handed scissors were black, made out of metal, and ugly, while the left-handed scissors were colorful and bright and naturally were scooped up before I could get to them. This was the first time I ever felt ashamed for being a lefty.
I remember once being both complimented and offended because a fellow classmate told me that I wrote pretty well for a left-handed person. I always thought that I had pretty good handwriting. But did I have good handwriting for a left-handed person?
I remember the first time I ever used a computer and realized that I had to learn how to use it with my right hand. I struggled with it for weeks. I struggled to get the mouse to move in the direction I wanted it to. I tried to put the mouse on the left side of the keyboard but the mouse was shaped to accommodate the right hand. So I had to make it work. Eventually, I learned how to use the mouse with my right hand and I hated myself for it.
I remember when I first tried to drive a car and realized that most of the important controls are on the right. The gears, the brakes, the hand controls, the handbrake, the radio and the cup holder are all on the right. I have to use my right hand to do almost anything in the car, and the only thing I use my left hand for is to open the window, turn the blinkers on and off, and of course, to help steer. These are constant reminders that I am living in a world designed for right-handed people.
Things are better now and I am glad to see that there are places you can buy left handed notebooks, scissors, pens, pencil sharpeners, computer mouse, and all kinds of paraphernalia. Despite this, it is still hard to be a lefty. It is hard because even though times have changed, other things have still remained the same. You may think that you can just hand us a pair of regular scissors, ruler, can opener, whatever, but they just don’t work well for us. In fact, left-handed people have even gotten hurt from using right-handed equipment and machinery. Furthermore, there is no legal protection available for left-handed people. This means that when we get hurt, we cannot claim injury because we are left-handed. This means that we are a minority, but an unorganized one, so we do not have the same rights as other minority groups. And yet, as a minority, we still have to face the burden of being different.
I am glad that my two-year-old daughter is not a lefty. I am glad that she will not have to go through the subtle discrimination that left-handed people go through. I am glad that when she goes to school one day she will be able to use any pair of scissors she wants. I am glad that she will be able to write in her three prong binder instead of taking the paper out. She will also be able to write without getting ink smudges on her hands. She will be able to do anything she wants and not have to overly compensate merely because of the hand that she writes with. She can just be like everyone else, and sometimes that is for the best.
But I am still proud to be a lefty. It is part of who I am. I would not change it for anything in the world. But I do wish that life would be just a little easier for us. I do wish that more people would understand and how sometimes the things they do or say can have a direct impact on us.
So what can we do to change this? What can left-handed people do? What can right-handed people do? The most we can do is talk about it and hopefully, people will start to understand and help make the world a better place for us.
Today is International Left Handers Day. What does that mean? This is the 29th annual Left Handers day, a day that was created in order to raise awareness of the challenges left-handed people face daily. It is also a day to celebrate left-handed people. So be sure to use the hashtag #lefthandersday on social media and tell your left-handed friend that you understand. Reach out a helping hand — left or right, it really doesn’t matter. And believe me, it can make a world of difference.