Living Left-handed

Simple everyday items like a pair of scissors or a spiral bound notebook seem universal. However when you're left-handed, such items are uncomfortable reminders of living in a right-handers' world.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), ninety percent of people in this country are right-handed. Have our minority of non-righties been forced to conform? In many ways … yes.

Brian of Honolulu remembers his father sharing memories of when it was culturally acceptable for schools to force left-handed students to write with their right, “cracking their left hand with a ruler as a punishment.”

What causes a person to be left-handed? Is it hereditary? The APA has shared studies from geneticists that identify a gene on a specific chromosome, present in most lefties.

Joining left-handers in the minority are those who are either full or partially ambidextrous – being able to use his/her right and left hands equally well. As you speak to many lefties, you’ll find that it’s not all that uncommon to be partially ambidextrous. 

Kaipo: I do all of the physical (sports) things left handed while I write with my right hand. Those sports include golfing, bowling, baseball, football and other sports.
Andy: I'm a closet lefty. Everything my parents taught me how to do I do right handed, everything I learned on my own is left handed.
Moana: The only things that I do left handed are eat, write, and [clean] myself. Everything else I do right-handed.
PJ: Many things strong left and many things strong right. I'm not a true lefty but righty that uses the left to eat, play video games, drive, playing cards, use a computer mouse and more.
Deborah: I'm a righty except for when I use scissors and drying cutlery, then I’m a lefty.
Diane: I grew up in a right-handed world so other than eating and writing, I do all sports with the right side.

For International Left Handers’ Day, we wanted to give Hawaii’s lefties the opportunity to share some of their struggles:

Colleen: Pen smears on left hand from writing. Scissors hurt your hand, notebooks with the wire binding is always in the way.
Kamalei: I'm not naturally left-handed ... being born prematurely/having brain damage caused my left hand to adapt more strongly over my right. All through elementary school, there was only one other left-handed kid in my class-- he and I spent the first few years fighting over our teacher's one pair of left-handed scissors.
Meredith: My arch enemies are ladles, wire bound notebooks, chalkboards, and rollerball pens.
Riana: I remember refusing to turn my paper at an angle and coming home with a black left hand from all the pencils and pens.
Dana: Writing on a blank CD with a Sharpie. The worst.
Riley: Having to hear "oh my God, I didn't know you were left handed?" Every time you pick up a pencil.
Shilpa: Most desks were for righties, so my arm would sometimes get tired from having to hold it in the air without any support from the arm rest--either that or I'd have to do that whole extreme angling thing on the desk to give my arm some support. I also try to seat myself at group tables so that I'm either sitting next to another lefty or so that my left arm sticks out into space so I don't have to practice "dueling elbows" with the person next to me the entire meal.
Bryan: Left handed golf clubs are a pain to get.
Isis: As a right handed parent of a left handed child, it was a bit difficult to help him out! Can't hold his hand to trace letters, help him color, or use a scissors...and he was having a little trouble with writing and other small motor skills. Thankfully we got some tips from other left handed friends and we've managed to help our son live in a right handed world. I have to say that it's also helped us as parents think "outside the box" when it comes to teaching him things. He's currently the only lefty in both families, which I think makes him quite special!

Life as a lefty has its fair share of challenges but as more shared, there are also some advantages:

Cam: I've always thought that it was to my advantage being left-handed and playing regular right-handed guitar, basses, ukes, etc. The advantage being the more dominant and dexterous hand is on the fretboard.
Jose: For sports, there aren't as many people that shoot, throw, or swing left handed. Having anyone on your team who can is usually an advantage.

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease has also shared studies suggesting left-handers tend to earn slightly more money at the workplace than their right-handed counterparts. According to the study, left-handers tend to use both hemispheres of the brain in critical thinking. They may be able to come up with a novel solution that a right-hander may dismiss for being too radical.

Righty, lefty or both, variety is the spice of life. Whether it’s to help us think outside the box or to help us in sports, today we give thanks for our left-handed brothers and sisters. Let’s give them a pat on the back or at the very least, pass them a napkin for the ink on their hand.