Lefties: Living in a World of Right-Hand Dominion

An insight into the life of a left-handed student.


Eli Pasternak, Guest Writer

Being left-handed in a world of righties is tough. Every day, I witness countless people performing simple tasks with their right hand:  taking notes in school, eating lunch, throwing a ball. It is true that the planet we live on is geared towards the right-handed. For example, every lefty understands the struggle of the classic three-ring binder, one of our worst enemies. Three bulky, metal rings complicate basically anything that happens on paper. How is it possible for us left-handers to take down notes when the paper in front of us is barely accessible? We are able to do it, but the countless different attempted hand positions never seem to truly be comfortable, always straining our hands like somebody who is reaching for something she never can truly get.

I began to realize the natural disadvantage I had when I was in the second grade. One day, during a class project about who-knows-what, we were instructed to cut pieces of construction paper. However, there was one part of the project that really bewildered me:  cutting the construction paper. For some unknown reason, I just could not do it. Having to retry many times, I was frustrated that my cuts were never clean and were always slanted, never good enough to be glued onto my final project. It eventually got to a point where I was asking my classmates to do it for me because it never seemed like my cuts were good enough. Gliding through the paper as a bird glides through the air, their scissors seemed to be doing the work for them. For me, there was always an unnatural force pushing against my hand, and holding the scissors felt like a wolf’s bite. I blame this on two factors: my lack of arts and crafts skills and the fact that every pair of scissors in the bin was carefully constructed to favor the righties. Even though cutting in a straight line is not a representation of ability or prowess in life, it made me feel as if I couldn’t perform as well as my other classmates, and I felt as singled out as a blue rose on Valentine’s Day.

Although I endured many inconveniences, I must say that I was more fortunate than my maternal grandfather, who—also a lefty from birth—was forced to use his right hand in school, as left-handedness was not accepted and those cursed with the improper genetics were forced to “change” their hand dominance. In the beginning, as I can imagine, his words most likely appeared more similar to the hieroglyphics on the Egyptian Pyramids than the intended letters of the English alphabet. Although he eventually became accustomed to right-handed life, he admitted that using his opposite hand never felt natural.

Lefties stand at an interesting place in our world. Although vexed by common aspects of life, like student-desks in school, and smudge all over our hands when we write, and evil can openers, and even potentially dying sooner—studies have shown that left-handed people die an average of nine years earlier than their right handed counterparts—us lefties will never cease to exist. We will always be around, either colliding elbows with you at the dinner table or taking too long to pay at a store because the pen attached to the chain doesn’t reach the left side. However, for all of my lefties out there, we know that one of the best feelings is walking out of class, only to find a similar, distressed student with dark smudge all over their left hand, rubbing their hands together as if trying to erase not only the pencil marks, but all of the hardships of left-handedness.