Is it just me... or is it a left-handed thing?
Things left-handers find difficult
We were asked by a Club members whether any of us also have problems with greeting people with a kiss, either on one or both cheeks. She said that she often ended up bumping noses or planting the kiss firmly (and embarrassingly) on the other persons lips because she always seemed to start on the wrong side.
We thought about is and realised that we all do the same - it IS a left-handed thing!
When we asked about what other problems people had we got a huge response. Some of the things that were mentioned were:
- Crossing other peoples paths/position on pavement
- 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 the kissing confusion page.
Click here to join the Left-Handers Club FREE if you want to keep up to date with our surveys and Club member responses - It ISN'T JUST YOU - a lot of left-handers seem to do the same things.
If you want to add your own thoughts or experiences - please make a comment on our page on this subject on the Anything Left handed website.
Members' responses to our
Is It Me? survey
- 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
- 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
- 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 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 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 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 Piplica, 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 - it is great to be part of such a helpful worldwide community of left-handers!
If you want to add your own thoughts or experiences - please make a comment on our page on this subject on the Anything Left handed website.