Anything Left-Handed > Lefty information > Is it Me?

Is it just me… or is it a left-handed thing?

As a result of our question on Left Handed Kissing Confusion, we got loads of responses about other things left-handers find awkward but have never really connected with them being left-handed.   Apart from the problem of greeting people with a kiss and getting it wrong, we also received comments on other things that made us think….is it just me or is there more to it? Some of the things that were mentioned were:

 

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  • crossing other peoples paths/position on pavement
  • hugging
  • taking neighbours drink/bread roll at dining table
  • direction of work, decorating/painting rooms
  • being helped to put on a jacket
  • receiving change
  • putting children’s socks and shoes on
  • using your left-hand as a point of reference when giving directions
  • feeling more comfortable sitting on the left hand side of things
  • putting belts on upside down
  • visualise things the opposite way around
  • trouble opening/locking locks
  • work stations flow the opposite way around
  • organising files “back to front”

It seems that a lot of the quirks that we have are a result of being left-handed in a right-handed world. Listed below are some of the responses we received from our Club Members when we asked . “Is it just me…?” See how many you identify with. The quirk that started it all was social kissing, and you can read a selection of anecdotes about that on our kissing confusion page.

 

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  • It was only recently  that I realised why, when I try clothes on in a shop and put them back on the rack, they’re always facing the wrong way because, I’m LEFT-HANDED.~ Simone Hurst

I’ve noticed that even when loading the dishwasher, I start on the right, but my husband, who is right handed, loads on the left first, and folding sheets together is a nightmare, he folds the opposite to me, and if I don’t remember the sheet gets twisted not folded. ~ Carol Wiltshire

  • One really embarrassing thing I do at dinner parties is drink from the person next to me’s glass.   I just reach out with my left hand and lift and its not until I  see that  I’m getting strange looks that I realise what I’m doing.   I tell myself I won’t do it again then I do.   Also the cheese board!   I just dread someone asking me to cut a piece for them because I just can’t do it, it usually ends up on the table and I feel stupid.   What should be an enjoyable night out is something I dread. ~ Evelyn Rose
  • When first seated at a dinner party or restaurant table, I always have to wait for the person to my left to take a sip of their drink, or eat their bread roll to make sure I don’t take the wrong one by mistake! ~ Lauren, UK
  • Microscopes!! The fine focus is always on the right!! its probably just me but I use them all day and it drives me mad (boss too mean to buy me a proper one). ~ Debbie, UK
  • Am also a glider pilot, and there are an unusual number of left-handed pilots, particularly the really good ones e.g. national & world champions. We tend to be better & more comfortable at turning right, whereas the right-handed pilots are better at turning to the left. ~ Sarah Platt

I just wonder if anyone out there is like me. When I’m out with friends walking I have to be on the left side of the road when walking and on the left of people when I’m talking otherwise I feel uneasy. ~ Jay

 

  • Receiving change from shop assistant – I nearly always find myself struggling to hold it without the coins falling all over the floor. (I’m talking about a combination of notes and coins). I think it’s because people naturally hand change as if the person receiving will hold out their right hand – but I hold out my left. ~ Emma Hurley
  • I start painting a wall left to right, both the right handers in my family go right to left, and they couldn’t figure out why I did it “backwards” as they called it. It wasn’t backwards for me. They finally figured it out. It was “left-handed logic” as they call it every time they think I’m doing something the wrong way.
  • Just to let you know I have just been decorating and was papering the room from right to left and find it very difficult to work that way around rather than left to right ~ M. Izzard
  • Upside-down billWe had an email recently from LHC member June in Melbourne, Australia that struck a chord with us.  She says she is very good at adding up numbers upside down and likes adding up her bill in a cafe upside down faster than the waitress can!
  • June also told us that she has another skill…
    “Recently, under immense stress, I calmed myself by doing something I have done in the past as a fun exercise, but have no idea when or how I learnt to do it, but everyone thinks it is very strange. I write the figure 1 down, next line I double it-2, then again-4, then again and again on each line. I am up to about 40 figures in my answer at present. What is unusual is that I begin at the left-hand edge and quickly double all the figures across to the right side.  I sometimes check the answer by doing it the normal right to left, but I find my way much quicker. Everyone that has seen me do it is amazed.”
  • I don’t know what the odds are, but I’d love to know how many left handed people are also directionally challenged like me  – i.e., have trouble with north south east and west and distances,  and are constantly having to make u-turns when going somewhere. I’ve had this problem all my life and have often been asked what it feels like to “be lost” and am I scared when it happens.  I just tell them, I don’t have a problem with it, I just consider it going on an adventure and I eventually get where I going . It just takes a little bit longer and I consider the new things I see along the way a learning experience.~Dot Sale, Ontario, Canada.
  • When going to a cinema or theatre I am always drawn like a magnet to the left hand side to find a seat. If I have to sit on the right hand side I don’t feel comfortable all night and just sit there thinking how much better I would enjoy the film etc if I was on the left. Is this common with other people? ~ Maureen Elliott
  • I put on a belt backwards, as in using my left hand and inserting it in the right side. Most of the time its hard to notice a difference, but there’s belts out there, like ones with buckles that end up being upside down. I know it’s not just me because two other left-handers I know do the exact same thing, so I was wondering how many other left-handers do this as well? ~ Scott Farrar, USA
  • I just bought this new belt with a designer buckle. I started putting the belt through the straps in my jeans as usual, but when I wanted to close the buckle, I discovered that the buckle logo was upside down. “How weird”, I said to myself, and then it dawned on me: this belt was designed for righties! Somehow I, as a lefty, have an innate impulse to thread a buckle through my jeans straps beginning at the opposite side from that of a RH! (My old belt didn’t cause me any trouble of this sort, since it didn’t matter in what way you turned the buckle). Before the time of the CDs, when one still had LP records, I used to have mine on a shelf beneath my record player. I’ve always been meticulous about sorting  things alphabetically, and I used to do that with my records, too. Somehow, though, my friends would consider my “shelf order” strange, since I put all artists whose name/group name  began with an “A”, at the right-hand side of the shelf, which was totally natural to me. Couldn’t get it what was so strange about that, until recently when I came to think of the fact that it must have been a lefty instinct, to do it “the RIGHT way round”! 🙂 ~ Helene, Sweden

Among a million of things I just can’t do in this right-handed world, here’s one that made me really ask to myself….is it just me? I am just not able to uncork a bottle of wine, simply ’cause I unscrew in the wrong direction. The cork opener never makes it into the cork, no matter how hard I try to push it! My husband makes fun of me, saying that I always use my left-handedness as an excuse just because I’m not able to do stuff….Will they ever understand? ~Sara, Italy

  • When taking “hanging files” (where the papers are laid sideways) out of filing cabinets and opening them up, the papers are always upside down for me when a right-hander has been doing the filing. I know now that I mustn’t slip new papers into hanging files without first checking the direction of the other pages – which are always upside down to my way of thinking! Luckily, I have a personal filing cabinet, where only I file the papers, so every file opens with documents the correct way up for me! ~ Laura, UK
  • Myself and one of my best friends were trying on clothes and she wanted to try on the shorts I was wearing-with a belt. When she got them on and was trying to use the belt, she was having trouble getting it undone so she could do it. She made the comment “you and your left handedness.” I had not realized she was having trouble with doing the belt until she said that and I asked what she meant. Evidently, I had my belt “backwards”. I have to wonder how many other “leftisms” there are that we (lefties) are unaware of? ~ Anonymous, USA
  • It seems my right-handed husband and four kids have all “learned” from me! My husband learned to change and dress our four children the left-handed way since I had the baby’s rooms set up for my convenience. Kitchen activities were also done “my” way. My kids are now in their 20’s and my daughter commented that she does many activities like a lefty because she learned from me. She says it’s my fault she’s all messed up but I just tell her I did her a favour because she’s skilled with both hands! Anything we leftie’s teach our kids or spouses will be noticed by other right-handed people! ~ Doreen Place
  • I have recently realised that one reason I have difficulty with the new chip and pin system is that I put my card in “the wrong way round” – the automatic way for me as a left-handed person but not for the machine – created by and for right-handed people I think?Is this something lots of you have already discovered?! ~ Barbara Robinson
  • I just wanted to say I felt so much better after reading all the things we left handers have in common.   I constantly have problems with handshakes, belts, crossing someone’s path (am I supposed to go to the right of them or to the left?) and of course the kissing!   I also appreciated the people who visualize things in the opposite way.   I recently graduated from law school and I was once told by a professor that although I reached the right conclusion I came at the problem with “backward thinking logic”.   I also organized all of my notebooks in school so that they opened backwards; my classmates never wanted to borrow notes! I also have problems with outside water faucets — I always try to turn it left to turn it off.   And when I read magazines I always flip through them back to front. ~Lesley Holloway
  • The quirk I had trouble with wouldn’t have been noticed if I hadn’t been in the military (US Air Force). As a lefty, I’m more comfortable carrying my purse on my right shoulder, leaving my left arm free. In fact, I find it almost impossible to keep a shoulder bag ON my left shoulder when I try. Here’s the trouble — salutes are done with the right hand and thus, the right arm must be free at all times. It’s even in the regulations that purses, umbrellas, briefcases, etc., should all be carried on the left. I had trouble with that for the entire time I was in the Air Force. I tended to just carry my purses in my left hand (even the shoulder bags), as they would never stay on the shoulder. Very frustrating! My next comment concerns the preference for sitting on the left side of theaters. I don’t feel uncomfortable if I have to sit on the right side, but I do tend to automatically go to the left when entering a theater. This turns out to be an advantage. Studies have shown that the large majority of the population goes to the right when a choice is presented (like going into a theater or choosing from two lines for an amusement park ride) — probably due to handedness. An authority on Disney World has even put into his book about the Park that you’ll spend much less time standing in line if you veer to the left when presented with two lines for the ride! So, go with your quirk and veer to the left — it will almost assuredly be quicker/shorter/less-crowded over there! ~ Lynn, Denver, CO USA
  • Regarding shaking with the left hand, I am both a lefty and in the Guides. Guides and Scouts around the world shake left handed, which is perfectly natural to me. Unfortunately it makes things even harder when I have to shake hands in a non-Guiding situation, I am even less likely to remember to offer my right hand. This has meant that in professional situations, I’ve found out that quite senior people were Scouts or Guides and/or left handed and ended up leaving my boss totally out of the conversation as we then talk about handedness or Scouting. ~A. Kerr

Is it just me? Everything at my workstation in my job flows right to left! It drives my co-workers crazy when they come looking for something at my area. They think my workstation set up is “backwards”. I just assumed its a “leftie” quirk. Same thing in my kitchen by the way…. ~ Colleen, USA

 

  • I always find that if I have to flick through a book I hold it in my right hand and flick the pages with my left starting at the back of the book. It drives me insane when I want to use a dictionary because I think of the alphabet going forwards but then I’m flicking with the letters going backwards. Whenever I fill up my motorbike I have to go to a pump that is on my left other wise it just doesn’t feel right. Unfortunately my car has the fuel cap on the right hand side and I frequently get myself tangled up with the pumps. I also us one of those flip open wallets and always find it difficult to put notes and credit cards away without turning it upside down then everything ends up falling out! ~ Pauline Woodhall, UK
  • A constant annoyance for me is the placement of receipts when signing credit card transactions. Cashiers almost always angle the receipt towards my right hand, so I inevitably have to re-angle it towards my left hand before signing. This can sometimes be a problem if the cashier keeps a finger on the receipt (usually due to a draft from a fan or doorway). The most amazing incident of this nature was a few months ago in a well known UK DIY store: the cashier placed the receipt angled towards my right hand, I re-angled the receipt towards my left, but before I could put pen to paper the cashier re-angled the receipt towards my right again! ~ Michele Wilkinson, Cambs
  • My gripe is with the till desks, usually petrol stations, that secure the pen for the signing of the receipt with a piece of tatty string that is attached to what ever on the right side and too short for the lefthander. The assistant also offers the receipt to me addressing my right hand. I have found that banks are no better they just have posh ball chain that’s too short instead of string ~ Bob Beaney
  • I was recently looking into purchasing a new horse.   When  I lifted his leg to look at his hoof he  tried to kick out.   This had never happened to me  with my other two horses so I thought there was something wrong.   The owner informed me that I was picking  up his hoof by touching the inside of his leg.   He said most people touch the horse on the outside of the leg and this is why he was spooked.   I never realized it but being left-handed I naturally reach inside the leg, whereas it is awkward  for a right-handed person  to reach inside, so therefore would pick up the leg from the outside. Also, when I was a kid, my mom asked me to put up the pencil sharpener (one of those crank kinds).   I did as I was told.   A few days later my dad complained that he could not sharpen his pencil as the sharpener was upside down!!! ~ Linda Vonhof, Westhampton Beach, NY
  • Is it me? i’m the only left hander at college, and if I’ve been using the computers I get a lot of complaints because the mouse is on the wrong side of the computer for the boring people of this world.~ Bev Syson, Ilkeston
  • My ex-husband and I moved to a new home and since he was travelling for work I had to unpack everything.   We lived in that house for 3 ½ years and he complained the whole time that nothing was in the right” place.  I just kept saying welcome to my world” with a big smile on my face.   I hadn’t even realized I had set everything up left-handed – I just put everything where is was supposed to go. ~ Jodi Olson
  • When I am drinking especially in a pub or club I feel that if I don’t hold the glass in my left hand that I am not getting the full enjoyment of the drink. Sometimes I find that I am drinking with my right hand and realise that something is not going quite right and have to change! ~ David Robinson

 

It works the same way when walking past someone but don’t know which side to let them pass you on, so you end up doing a little dance and bounce on both feet before one person takes the lead and chooses a side. the difference is, it’s with your neck and so you end up looking stupider! Although it can be quite humorous ~ Laura UK

  • Whenever I read a book and the author describes a scene, I always find later, as the plot unfolds that I have visualised it completely the wrong way round, as a mirror image. Is it me? ~ Linda Dainton, UK
  • Is it only me? I run my own business from home which does involve sending information by post to prospective clients. When the information I send runs to more than one page I like everyone else staple the pages together. Often, too often the actual staple doesn’t penetrate the paper. Is this a fault that other left handers have encountered and if it is how have they overcome this annoying problem?~ Bob Westecott
  • I joined a dance class (Line-Dancing) and had a hard time following everyone…All the steps were lead on the right foot , Of course I instinctively started on my left and I was always a step behind everyone…I was so ashamed, I couldn’t keep up. ~ Marty
  • Handshakes! I naturally put out my left hand…d’oh! Oh the trials of living in a right handed world… ~ Nancy Hopkins, UK
  • I have difficulties with locks and keys is it just me ? ~ Frances Todd, UK
  • Walking in the out door. I am always doing this. It drives my son crazy! Or walking on the wrong side of the staircase. ~ Cindy Timo
  • I was wondering , growing up was it difficult for you to learn how to tie your shoes properly? Especially learning from a rightie? I ended up making two bunny ears and tying them together rather than the loop around and pull. Also making check marks (ticks). Did people tell you growing up checking each others papers that your checks were “backwards”? ~ Jennifer, The Bronx
  • I used to hold all my four children on my right side, leaving my left hand (a working one) free. So I am absolutely sure that all the discussions about women carrying their babies on their left side so that children could hear their mothers’ hearts beating are just nonsense! It is just a matter of right- or left-handedness. ~ Irina Radetskaya, Russia

Thank you to everyone who responded to our question so far – it is great to be part of such a helpful worldwide community of left-handers and we look forward to receiving your further comments – please use the form below.

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856 comments on “Is it Me?
  1. Barbara Byington Rosner says:

    Did anyone else notice that during all the events during the Queen’s demise and funeral process, that the future King of England, “now Prince William” is not only left-handed, but writes with what they call THE HOOK!! I noticed because I’m one also! In the old days of school for me, the Principal was called in to view me at my desk writing! (1940s on thru).

  2. yassin chekh says:

    From my childhood until I turned 31 years old. Then I found myself left-handed. I was always different from my friends, and also at home, I was different from my family. They accused me of being a freak always sitting alone and telling myself why I’m different. When I read about a left-handed person, I realized that I was special. Now I am distinguished in the city in which I live, fighting the Yemenis alone …

  3. Marci Stellmacher says:

    When I get a new magazine, I look at it back to front first before I start to read articles

  4. Rain says:

    I constantly do the dance on the sidewalk – do I dodge left or right? I generally just walk with purpose, making it clear that I won’t be changing path, and those who are smart can dodge whichever way they choose!
    My belt goes on upside down, and I could never figure out why I had that tendency.
    I always accidentally double-lock my door instead of unlocking it! I had to visualise what turning the key/knob was actually doing to the lock for it to make sense.
    I keep forgetting which way to turn the screwdriver. I generally pick a direction and see what happens.
    I tick things off backwards, and can mirror write with alarming ease. I can also produce a legible, if slow, script with my right hand, so I am ambidextrous to an extent.
    Don’t ask me to cut the cake, as I ruin it. It’s generally avoidable, except at your own birthday party, when it’s expected that you run your own cake cutting ceremony. It wasn’t very ceremonial!
    I always have a tendency to shake hands or accept gifts/items with my left hand, which in my culture is rude and, according to the aunties, a mortal sin (although that part is up for debate). I have somewhat solved the problem by wearing a heavy charm bracelet on my right hand, as a reminder to “use this one”.
    I visualise scenes in a book completely backwards, and any directional indicators just completely throw me off. And I always imagine myself looking from the left side of the scene. Plus, the characters all end up as lefties unless otherwise stated.

    I’m not just left-handed, but academically gifted, making me a double-anomaly, completely at odds with a lot of people. My family (parents and younger brother) are all right handed, and to my knowledge, there aren’t any other lefties in the family. Interestingly enough though, I used to be in a Gifted and Talented Education program in secondary school, and lefties were definitely way more common than 1 in 10. Fascinating. Perhaps because of the lack of strict brain lateralisation that is common to righties. Who just don’t get it. Even when you spell it out, they tell you to stop treating your handedness as a disability. To stop making it a big deal. I don’t think we are. There is no denying that we’re a 10% of the global population living in a world where everything favours the other 90%. I cannot wait to buy my own house, set it up MY WAY, furnish it with all the reversed tools, and casually invite my family over.

    • Barbara Byington Rosner says:

      OF course!! Me too! But I had a wonderful treat when I visited a Jewish Temple with my friend, and they do reading of the writing in books and so on, from THE BACK!! Hooray!!
      I had to relearn how to tear open a tea bag protective packet and the packet for the coffee bags they finally have produced. I have re-learned so many things, many of them mechanical, that I could write a book.
      I’m with you about OUR intelligence Q. Mine is high and I have always had a thought process that was different from my pals!! Of course 80 some odd years ago I was considered ODD.

  5. Marion Johnston says:

    Also srewtop lids on bottles and jars first opening them and then the performance of closing them …….takes me a while

  6. Renee Yarbrough says:

    In regards To Jennifer from the Bronx’s learning to tie shoelaces when she was young and having trouble, I am left handed my father’s right handed who was having problems teaching me, until he had a light bulb moment realizing HIS mistake. lol. Then he taught me how to tie laces usng full length mirror we had on the bar counter opposite side of kitchen. This was in the 70’s mirrored panels were a thing back then. However any full length mirror that the child/parent/teacher/left hander learning from right handed individual can see. This WILL work because right handed person image is facing the correct direction FOR THE LEFT HANDERS natural lefthanded ness.. AND regarding Jennifer from the Bronx’s making check marks in wrong direction MY DA** boss is left handed AS WELL, we continually bicker or he comments becase my check marks a grammatically incorrect I check from right to left if that makes sense. MY check marks have long portion or line on the left, the little short line is facing right and his check mark is opposition the short line is on left and the long portion is on the right. This to me seems wrong, hence our debate rages on in a joking manner but he REALLY thinks I am a screwed ass left hander AND that trader is a left handed man. Renee Yarbrough, Bay Area California, USA

  7. Sue Palmer says:

    It’s great to read all these comments! I have recently started caring for an old neighbour and keep trying to put her cardigan on, left arm first! She’s not happy! Now I realise why I always end up dancing round which ever kind gentleman tries to “help” me on with my coat!

  8. Solitarie says:

    Every time I hug someone, we end up thumping heads and awkwardly raising the same arms to go around each other’s shoulders.

    I also apparently put greeting/birthday cards in “upside down” for righties, but then again, I think they actually put their cards to me upside down!

    Locks and keys…yeah, I always struggle with those.

    Finally, the credit/debit card machines are always crammed up against something on the left, leaving the right side wide open for righties to sign. But I’m forced to try to sign for my purchase with my left hand squashed awkwardly over the machine.

  9. Annette, New Zealand says:

    It’s great to read everyone’s comments! With regard to kissing, I didn’t know that was a thing! (My husband of 32 years is also left handed, so it’s never been an issue.)
    My biggest troubles are cutting – I can NEVER cut anything in a straight line and potato peelers. I was taught by my right handed Mum to always peel away from yourself (as a safety thing) but the peelers don’t work if you do that!
    Also, my desk at work is made for a right hander – so I have to twist my whole body around to write when I’m sitting at my keyboard. Life would be far easier if I could write with my right hand OR I had a left handed desk! haha

  10. TERESA says:

    I can’t cut a straight line to save my life. I also suck at a lot of sports because coaches would try to make me into a right handed player and I (not into sports that much anyway) would just give up after a while. Those things were frustrating incidents in my life but the one that use to give me amusement was checking off boxes.People would lose their minds exclaiming that my “check marks are wrong” or they’re turned the “wrong way”Even now as an adult, I have people that try to correct my usage of a check mark. Check mark, marking with an x, filling in the blank, the only thing that matters is that the box has a mark in it.

  11. Jim says:

    I am over 60 and learned that Lefties have to be quick learners because we have to adapt. I worked in chicken deboning factory the first thing that was said “ you are left handed and can’t learn this” I told them show me what you want and I will do it. I just turned everything around and went to work and proved them wrong. Most lefties catch on quick because we have to.
    When I was learning to write in school I was the last to write cursive because I wrote upside down, I figured out how to turn my paper around and no problem.
    My dad forced to switch hands because in those days it was wrong to be a leftie.

  12. Joan Keith says:

    I also have trouble getting keys into locks, but hadn’t connected it to being left handed! Screw tops are just plain wrong and compass points defeat me too – I have to actively move my hand up and down for North to South then right to left for East to West to figure out directions. Horizontal and vertical cause me problems too.

  13. Megan says:

    I’ve noticed a few things recently that my husband has pointed out. My husband was getting frustrated with me for locking the gate incorrectly… I couldn’t understand how one could lock a gate “incorrectly” until he told me “you lefty, you’re doing it backwards” lol I didn’t even realize how difficult it was for him to take the lock off “upside down”. I’ve become pretty ambidextrous so I can easily do it both ways. So I have had to be conscious of the way I lock our animal’s gates so he can get in them.
    He also makes a conscious decision not to sit to the left of me because I often accidentally bump into him with my elbow when he does.
    Until I read these other comments I didn’t realize that I organized differently than right handed people. I job share my kindergarten teaching position and my teaching partner will put things on our desk in very different places than I do.
    Ooohhhh!! Also, my students are mostly right handed (I had no lefties this year) and when we are teaching writing and I do “hand over hand” to write a letter I can hold their right hand in mine and write help write their letters which are upside down to me. Everyone thinks it’s super weird that I can do it.

  14. Tom Baehr says:

    Is it just me? As a musician and a craftsman in a right handed world, it was essential that I adapt to “majority rule.” All my instruments except ukulele are right handed; I even play the symmetrical penny whistle that way because of my experience on flute. My only power tool, a lathe, doesn’t exist for left handers. A rifle is more natural on my right. I hug my rightie wife right handed. Keys, locks, jars, bottle cap lifters, never give me a problem. Neither do compass directions. I’m really mix handed. But people would identify me as left handed, because I write and eat with my left hand, even using chop sticks, and throw a ball left handed. (Frisbee? Right handed!) BTW, my twin brother is right handed. Bottom line, just standing relaxed, I feel that the left side of my body is dominant.

  15. Kim says:

    When I was a child, the way I tied my shoes used to really bother my Mom. She didn’t like how they weren’t straight across when I finished tying them.I explained to her that it had to do with the way I first crossed the laces left over right instead of right over left.