7 Ways That I Have Struggled For Being Left Handed

My entire life I have struggled for being left handed. I have struggled physically and emotionally because of the fact that I was born having a different dominant hand from other people. As I’ve mentioned before, being different can sometimes feel as if you are the odd one out, forever wanting to belong, and yet not quite able to. I have felt like this many times as I struggled for being left handed in a very right handed oriented world.

It may not seem as if there are left handed struggles. After all, compared to being multiracial or hapa, it may not seem like that big of a deal. I may not have been taunted for writing with my left hand. But I have had to do things to adjust simply because the world is designed for right handed people. I mean, everything that we see from pencils to computer mouse and eating utensils were all created for the right handed person. They were not created for someone like me who is not right handed.

A cup of coffee to the left of an empty notebook and a pen held by a left hand.
7 Ways That I Have Struggled For Being Left Handed

7 Ways That I Have Struggled For Being Left Handed

Right Handed Scissors

Two pairs of silver scissors on a plain white background with the pointed edges facing opposite directions.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I was 5 when I was handed a pair of right handed scissors by my teacher in Kindergarten. These were the ugly metal stiff scissors that were uncomfortable to grip, let alone use. I was supposed to practice cutting something along the lines. I tried. And then I tried again and again. But I couldn’t. It. Just. Wouldn’t. Cut. Torn between frustration and sadness, there came a feeling of inadequacy that rose within me like that of a ferocious raging beast. I couldn’t cut the paper, so my little 5 year old self felt incapable. I saw my classmates being able to cut. The scissors worked for them, but not me. I couldn’t understand it. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I must have been using right handed scissors. But it didn’t matter because the damage was done. It was my first time that I ever felt truly inferior for being left handed.

Right Handed Mug

A woman in the background holding a white mug with her left hand with the words 'the adventure begins.'
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

Unlike right handed scissors, this really hasn’t hurt my self esteem. It is more of an inconvenience than anything. Sometimes when I hold a mug with my left hand, I can’t see the picture on it. It is only when I hold it with my right hand, then I can see the picture in all of its glory. But by holding it with my right hand, I risk possibly slipping and dropping the hot liquid on me. It’s just not very comfortable for me to drink with my right hand. I’d so much rather drink with my left hand and be able to see the picture. But I guess this is just one way that I can’t have everything in life. Unless, of course, if I was right handed…

Ink Smudges on My Fingers

A left handed woman writing in her notebook at her desk.
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels.com

During my school days which seems like a long time ago, it was a common occurrence for me to find ink smudges on my fingers after completing a worksheet. When I write, my left hand inevitably ends up positioned over the piece of writing. This means that whenever I write something whether it be pen or pencil, I nearly always find smudges on my fingers. It also doesn’t help that I tend to press down hard on my paper so that the ink or pencil marks come out really dark. Right handed people don’t have this problem, because when they write, their hands don’t end up literally positioned on the words, but instead to the right of the words. So, to be a left handed writer can be quite messy. It is best to have some wipes on hand to wipe those smudges away.

Right Handed Notebook

A blank lined spiral notebook opened.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Speaking of writing, did you notice that the spiral notebooks and binders that we have to purchase for school are clearly designed for right handed people? Whenever I have used those spiral notebooks and binders, my left hand ends up colliding rather painfully with the binder rings. The only way to remedy that is by opening the binder, pulling out the piece of paper, and then returning it back to the notebook when I’m done writing in it. The same thing has happened when I’ve used spiral notebooks. I would either be forced to let my wrist collide painfully with the spiral part of the notebook, or I would have to lay my wrist on it, which inevitably is not the most comfortable of sensations. I used to stare longingly at right handed people and the ease that they exhibited when doing something as simple as writing in a notebook. But, alas, as a left handed person, apparently even writing is never without some pain.

Right Handed Mouse

A desktop computer  with keyboard and a mouse.
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

When I was younger, I was excited to use a computer for the first time. But then, when I realized that the mouse was positioned to the right, I was even less excited. I was less excited because it meant that once again I was faced with the realization that I was a lefty living in a right handed world. I tried to make it work; I really did. I tried to use my right hand to navigate with the mouse. But I felt so awkward and uncoordinated. The mouse that I was using was curved and shaped so that it would fit the average right handed person’s hand giving them the optimal position to place their thumb and fingers. When I tried holding it with my left hand, it didn’t feel comfortable because it was shaped to fit a right handed person. My thumb ended up falling on the space that was meant for the pinky finger, and my pinky finger ended up falling in the place meant for my thumb.

So, what could I do, but do the unthinkable. I had to learn how to use the mouse with my right hand, like it or not. Nowadays I am glad that there are more mice available for not just right handed but left handed people. But back in the mid-90s when I had to learn how to use a mouse, the one that we had was shaped for right handed people. And I hated every moment of it. I hated that I had to use a hand that felt so foreign and alien to me to do something as simple as playing pinball or drawing something in Paint. I shouldn’t have had to feel that way, but again this is another way that left handed people are marginalized in society.

Driving a Car

A view of the street from the driver's position in the car.
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Like most people my age I looked forward to learning how to drive a car. But there was one thing that held me back. I was not looking forward to driving a car that was clearly designed for right handed people. In the car, I am sad to say that my left hand is essentially useless. The only job it has is turning the blinkers on and off, or helping to steer the car. On the other hand, the right hand does nearly all of the work, from shifting gears, turning on cruise control, turning on the wipers, and of course steering. In fact, it is even the right foot that powers up the car. The left foot just sits there with nothing to do. I never before felt as if my left side was more useless than my right side, whenever I have to drive. Needless to say, I look forward to the day when I can drive a car on the opposite side, because then my left hand (and left foot) would finally be happy.

Right Handed Can Opener

Cans of beans and vegetables on two rolls of supermarket shelves.
Photo by edwin josu00e9 vega ramos on Pexels.com

This last one is probably the most trivial one on the list, next to the right handed mug. Did you notice that the can opener is designed with a right handed person in mind? When I attach the can opener to the can, I have to twist the lever with my right hand. My left hand is just used a stabilizer, holding the utensil in place while my right hand does the heavy lifting. I guess I should feel grateful that my left hand isn’t subjected to the hard work of opening a can. But it is another way that this world is clearly not designed for left handed people.

Are you left handed? If so, what are some left handed struggles?

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Hi! I'm Helen and I am a 32 year old biracial millennial mom raising two multiracial children. I am a writer, English consultant, and social media manager. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

25 thoughts on “7 Ways That I Have Struggled For Being Left Handed

  1. It’s rare to find left handed people in India, so a left handed person is quite special to us. Since I was a kid I’ve been trying to write with my left hand and I thought it is cool being a left handed. Now I know what problems you guys have to face.

    1. That is interesting that it is rare to find left handed people in your country. I wonder why that is. The problems aren’t too bad though 🙂

  2. Born a righty, but forced myself to learn how to write (and do other things) left handed. I have Parkinson’s that stsrted in my right hand. I decided to have plan B and learn to be a lefty. It went well until Parky got my left hand as well.

    When my mom was little she was a lefty as well. One of her teachers forced her to write right handed. She told mom she would not succeed in life being female and a lefty. Really? Her older brother was told to switch as well only he told her no…well not in that polite manner. She got the message.

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I have an aunt who was born a lefty but was forced to learn how to write and do everything with her right hand. 🙁 It is awful that that was a reality for left handed people. I feel sad thinking that if I had been born just 20 years sooner then that would have been my fate. 🙁
      I am sorry about your journey with parkinson’s. I imagine it wasn’t easy to learn how to use your non dominant hand.

  3. Ahh, the trials of being hapa added to the travails of being a south-paw! 😊 But you are such a capable young woman, it does not surprise me that you have dealt with this “handicap” so well!
    I did not even KNOW about “left-handed scissors” until I was in my 40s! So I tried using my right-handed ones with my left to see how hard could it be? Even though I am relatively ambi-dexterous, it took me quiet a bit of mental gymnastics to be able to switch!!
    The best running theory on right/left handedness has to do with the size of parts of the motor cortices of the brain. So left or right handedness (or ambi-dexterity) is simply a matter of the biology of the brain. But in a world dominated by right-handers, it CAN be challenging for a lefty. Kudos to you, Helen. c.a.

    1. Hi, thanks for reading and commenting. It is absolutely challenging but absolutely surmountable as well. I also didn’t know about those precious left handed scissors until I was a few years older and it was totally a game changer for me 😉

  4. Oh my goodness you never even really think of these things!!! Especially scissors and mugs! Thanks for sharing, so interesting but I’m sorry for the struggles 🙁

  5. My best friend is left-handed and we often sit together in class and our elbow always bumped into each other LOL. I’m not sure how the seating arrangement in your country, but in mine usually two desks would be put next to each other.

    1. The seating arrangements are like that in my country in elementary school especially. These single desks would be arranged in a group of four, two desks across from two. There have been times when I’ve bumped elbows with the person sitting next to me. Once or twice however I had a teacher who knew I was left handed and thus put me on the left to avoid that problem! 🙂

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Oh my gosh I hadn’t thought about mouses, cars, binders and the ink problem when writing! I always thought it was pretty cool to be left-handed and actually hoped that my toddler would be. Spoiler alert: she came out boring like her mama. Geez, it just goes to show how ignorant we can be when we don’t experience something firsthand… no pun intended

    1. Yes definitely it goes to show you never really know what someone goes through until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes 😉

      Thanks for reading.

  7. The teachers at school tried getting my son to use his right hand, which upset him – I spoke with the teacher and explained how neat his handwriting was – way better than many right-handed writers. The school left him alone after that. Funnily enough, he only writes with his left hand – everything else is done right-handedly.

    However, my youngest son is right-handed but he eats left-handedly?

  8. ugh us left handed people are living in a right handed world! hi, i’m also a fellow lefty and some of the things I didn’t even realize (like driving and a computer mouse). i’ve actually had to learn how to use both hands and now i don’t even think about the amount of times i’ve had to just learn using my right hand.

    but i’ve been told left handed people are very creative and intuitive to emotions / interpersonal skills so i think we are truly gifted individuals.

    the world needs to understand that being left handed isn’t weird.

    1. Youre right… there are definitely a lot of things (more than I’ve mentioned in this post) that I do with my right hand because I have no other choice. We are lefties stuck in a righty world. But at least we are the ones who are in our “right” minds 😉

  9. My cousin was left handed so he understood the challenges you faced. He became left handed after an accident to his right hand. That inspired me to become ambidextrous in case something happened to my right hand. It’s convenient if my right hand is holding something and I can write a short note with a child like scrawl with my left hand.

    1. That is a situation that really terrifies me. If I were to have an accident and something happened to my left hand, I would not be able to do anything :/ That is indeed one benefit to being ambidextrous

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