When nothing goes right, just simply go left! That’s what many left-handers (me included) did. It’s a crazy right-handers world, and it’s often overlooked how much our society really does exclude lefties. We don’t acknowledge which hand we use for daily things, so our handedness often gets overlooked. I learned while researching how important the hand we learned to write with really is in almost every part of our lives. To learn more about why this is so and other astonishing facts about lefties, read on!
Lefties truly have had it hard since the beginning, but back in the middle ages things sure were worse! The left-handed lived in constant danger of being accused of practicing witchcraft because people believed that being left-handed was evil. The belief stemmed from the fact that the word “left” means “sinister” in Latin. Many people even believed that the devil was left-handed and associated left with that. At times, teachers would even physically restrain students from using their left hand to write with by tying it behind their backs. They thought it was helping, even leading to success. In some countries, it was disrespectful to eat, gesture, and even work with your left hand. Many people considered it taboo and you could get in huge trouble for it. To this day some cultures still feel that way. In the late 20th century, people became more open to the idea of left-handedness and teachers began letting kids write with whichever hand they chose. To this day some countries still try to force kids to write with their right hand instead of their left. Lefties have always had the stereotype of being clumsy, but the whole story of it is more complicated than just being a little uncoordinated. Tools have always been made for the majority, right-handed people. Since these tools were made specifically for right-handers, when lefties tried to use them they often appeared clumsy and uncoordinated. To this day, most products are made for use with your right hand. Sure, they’ve invented left-handed scissors, but it’s very uncommon for them to be stocked when you need to use them. No one buys them because of the lack of population that uses them, so they aren’t very common to have at schools.
Lefties- in great demand but limited supply! Only 12% of the world’s population is left-handed while 87% is right-handed. The more the majority of right-handedness, the more the general population will trend toward that side. If you think that’s small, wait until you hear about the 1800s! In 1860, since a left-handed person was seen as being in league with the devil, as little as 2% of the population was left-handed. That’s even less than the amount now! Although lefties have been known to excel in creativity and different arts (because they have to learn to use BOTH sides of their brains to adapt to the “right-handers world”) only 0.5% of guitarists play left-handed. Only 1% of people are ambidextrous because it means “pertaining equally to the right and left-hand side” which many people aren’t really able to do. It’s very common to favor one side, and in order to be ambidextrous you can’t favor just one. Most people that qualify as ambidextrous started out being lefties. Scientists believe that the low percentage of lefties in the world is a result of the balance between cooperation and competition in human evolution. After all, humans have long had to learn to cooperate with one another, such as when sharing tools and hunting in groups. If most people use the same hand, it makes it that much easier.
Why the different hands?
We don’t remember ever choosing the hand we wanted to write and do things with; we just picked up a pencil and started using it. What determines what hand we choose to learn with though? The first thing that comes to mind is usually genetics. That’s obviously true in a lot of ways because a parent who’s left-handed is more likely to have a child that uses that same hand. There’s a lot more to the story though. For example, twins share the same DNA, but it’s common for one twin to be right-handed while the other is left. It is believed that prenatal environment, cultural influences, and even gender play a role in your handedness. A study even found that mothers 40 years and older were 70% more likely to have a left-handed child. There are slightly more left-handed boys than girls which possibly suggests that the male hormone testosterone has an influence on the hand you use. The obvious reason of chance plays a role too. In many ways, the reason for handedness is still a mystery to science and there’s a lot left to learn about it, but it continues to be studied and experimented on to this day!
Some cool advantages
Life without left-handed people wouldn’t be right! Sorry for that god-awful pun, but technically I’m still stating a fact! If being left-handed just had problems and challenges, then there wouldn’t be so many left-handed presidents! Out of the last 15 presidents, 47% have been lefties, which is a lot when you factor in how little of the population actually is left-handed. There are many pros to being left-handed, even if it is impossible to use scissors. Here are some cool things that come with being a lefty.
They’re more likely to pass their driver’s test. Statistics show that 57% of lefties pass their driver’s test on the first try while only 47% of righties pass on theirs.
They’re better at multitasking. They’ve always had to think more quickly to adapt to right-handed challenges. That pays off because the communication between both of their brain hemispheres is much faster and more efficient, making it easier to multitask.
They have advantages in sports. Most opponents they face tend to be right-handed. That throws other opponents that are used to righties off guard since they don’t have much practice with lefties.
They’re more creative thinkers. Since left-handers use the right side of their brains, it’s more highly developed. The right hemisphere has been known to be more involved in creative thinking.
I grew up lefty for pretty much everything I do, which is an obvious difference between me and every other kid in my grade. I personally never considered it a big deal, but when I told different adults about it, it always took them by surprise. I’ll admit, it’s definitely annoying to explain every time someone asks me, yes, I am left-handed, yes, I always have been. Yes, I’m sure, no I guess I never told you. You’d think your very best friends would catch on by now. Being left-handed didn’t negatively interfere with my life too much, but there were little annoying things here and there. I was always bumping elbows with my siblings at the dinner table and my peers at my desk. I never did perfect cutting paper with right-handed scissors. It took me a little bit longer to learn how to do certain things since I was learning from righties and trying to follow using my opposite side. I always thought differently from my right-handed peers, as lefties tend to do. I think more creatively and out-of-the-box than a lot of the people I know, which is a left-handers trait. Sports being a lefty was always fun. Coming up to the batter’s box as a lefty attracted attention to every field I went to. Pitchers have a really hard time throwing strikes for me, so I definitely have the benefit of being walked. My mom was 40 when she had me, which fits the fact I found earlier about moms being more likely to have a left-handed child ages 40 and up. My siblings were both born over ten years ahead of me when my mom was in her late 20s, and they’re both righties. Using my own personal story as evidence, I find that fact to be true. I’m happy to be lefty now that I’m older, even if it was something that was found “weird” when I was little. I’m lucky to meet other lefties (which isn’t very often) because we both have an immediate connection with one another. I like that I’m part of such a small population of the world without even trying, and I like how it makes me have to think a little bit differently and adapt. Without having to face these challenges, I don’t know where I’d be today.
It’s not easy being a lefty and at times not much fun. At the same time, it’s so much fun and has a great amount of interesting history. All in all, being left-handed is pretty darn cool and more people should try it! Jokes, jokes, you can’t choose the hand you’re born to use. Seriously though, join the movement.
Thanks for reading the first post I’ve posted since summer and I hope you liked it! If you found it intriguing, please give it a like and subscribe so you can see more of my content. I love to get comments, so be sure to tell me what you think of this post. If you have ideas for my next post, let me know in the blog forum.
By: Ardie N.