It’s not always easy being different

I’m part of a minority, scientifically recognized and studied, but relatively disorganized.

Most scientists estimate we comprise about 10% of the human population, but some say it may be as high as 15%. Think about that. We are 10% (at least!) of the people around you! Still, there’s more of us than there are blue-eyed people in the world and we’re considered a minority.

There’s a debate about how one ends up in this special group though. Some say through trauma very early in life, or even in the womb; others say it’s genetics. (Most people say it’s genetics.) Some think it has something to do with the devil.

No joke. Some faiths refuse to let people like me into their clergy, or we have to hide it, and some see it as a sign of the devil. At least that last one is quickly falling out of favor. Still, I’ve spoken with people in my own grandparents generation who were smacked, burnt, or made to write lines because what came naturally to them was seen as dirty, unholy, or just plain wrong. Children used to be beaten to try and change what was normal for them. Since then, many have fumbled awkwardly through certain aspects of their lives trying to reconcile what feels completely natural and what they’ve been taught they must do.

And it’s always awkward. It’s less awkward if you can do what you feel is natural, but it’s just not always a viable option. Simple computer interaction, writing out a love letter on paper, opening a door to walk into different places, holding or shaking hands, politely eating dinner and maintaining the illusion that it’s all so normal can be difficult. Nobody acknowledges the adjustments you’re making and the part of you you’re hiding and you wonder if it’s because you’re doing it so well, or if they are just trying to be polite. Or maybe they’re just unobservant.

Meeting somebody who is different like you can be great. You don’t have to worry about your different-ness. You can share special tips for getting through the day and functioning in a world that is designed for the other 90%.

That 90% gets everything. It is assumed a person is a part of that 90% unless they point out that they aren’t or do something really obvious to give it away. There are small stores and specialty items that cater to people in my minority, but usually we just have to adapt.

All that adapting must be wearisome because we die, on average, almost a full decade sooner than our counterparts. We’re also more likely to be alcoholics, schizophrenics, or suffer other mental illnesses as well as a certain amount of clumsiness. My minority has been linked to autism and dyslexia too.

At least when we somehow avoid those problems, we tend to be smarter. That makes adapting easier. While roughly 10% of the population lives like me, 20% of MENSA members share the same minority claim and those of us who apply that heightened IQ to academics make between 15 and 26% more than those outside our little group over the course of our lives. (Tell that to my empty bank account.) Four of the 5 creative people behind Mac Computers were part of the same minority and so were 25% of all astronauts. We also have claims to heightened creativity, musical ability, spacial awareness, and being great in combat.

Don’t believe me? (Who could blame you after that clumsiness claim.) Alexander the Great was part of my minority. So were Julius Ceasar, Cary Grant, Lord Baden-Powell, Marie Curie, Angelina Jolie, Dick Van Dyke, Fred Astaire, Lewis Carroll, Buzz Aldrin, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charlemagne, and Tom Cruise. Many more too.

I’m just a lefty – a south paw. I couldn’t write properly with my right hand if my life depended on it. But I’m in pretty good company, a larger than average percentage of which also happens to be gay or bisexual. (I know not everybody on that list above is gay or bisexual, but a large percentage either are, were, or it has been speculated that they were. Getting into the ethics of that speculation is a whole other moral quandary altogether.)

If you got confused, that’s understandable. It’s amazing how perceptions change over time. Being a lefty isn’t so bad anymore. Most people don’t notice or care. In some cultures it is even seen as a special thing. Hopefully, it can get to that point for our fellow humans who also happen to be gay very soon.

Image credit unknown. Found at THIS website.

In the meantime, check out THIS website for more fun lefty facts and list of more lefties.

17 Responses to “It’s not always easy being different”
  1. My son is starting to lean towards lefty. He uses both now but tends to use his left more for everyday tasks. You’re right about the older generation thinking it was evil. If my grandmother was still alive she would probably force him to be right-handed. I was ambidextrous as a child & she shouted at me often “Pick a ******* hand!” I later became righty. To this day I can still use & write with both. So “meh” *sticks tongue out* to people like that.

    • Peaches says:

      Yeah. My Opa was supposed to be a lefty, but the family didn’t find out till later in life. He just sort of casually mentioned at a family dinner that they used to smack his left hand with a ruler (hard) until he used his right. No wonder he has horrible handwriting. Poor guy :( (Love my opa)

      And out of 8 cousins (his grandchildren) 3 of us are lefties, though one is from a set of identical twins so I’m not sure that counts. Either way, it still beats the ratio.

      • I would’ve been expelled from school in an instant if I grew up in that era. I can never imagine a teacher hitting me. (Although, I bet a few wanted to.) My grandparents told me the same stories. Only they got smacked for chewing gum or crying in class. Insanity..

  2. That Mensa stat confuses the hell out of me… wouldn’t the remaining 80% be righties and that’s a bigger number than 20%.

    • Peaches says:

      If lefties comprise about %10 of the general population, you would expect to see them equally represented in other groups. 10% here, 10% there, but they aren’t. There are some places where there is a higher than ratio percentage of lefties. Like in MENSA, which has 20% (double what’s proportional), means that there is something about lefties that makes them well suited for certain things. Did I make that easier to understand?

  3. lisa170 says:

    We wondered for a while if my niece was a lefty. When she started to draw she used both hands but always started with her left. It was confirmed when she potty trained. You know you’re a lefty if you can’t wipe your own butt with your right hand.

    • Peaches says:

      “You know you’re a lefty if you can’t wipe your own butt with your right hand.”

      This! lol. I almost broke my wrist when I was a kid and had some very creative (and lengthy) bathroom times for the first week or so.

  4. Ms.Problems says:

    This reminded me of a story Friend M told me once.
    She had a girl who was training her at the time, it had to do with filing paper or something. Anyway, and all the files were (to my mom) messed up, or out of line. Friend M said, “It was completely backwards! If it was suppose to be left to right, it was from right to left, and it was suppose to start at the top drawer and go down, and it went from the bottom drawer and went up!”

    Needless to say, it took her 3 months to learn how the girl “filed” lol :D
    Very interesting post!

  5. It really is wonderful being a lefty…. :) afterall, we’re in our right minds! Lol

  6. mandaray says:

    My boyfriend is left-handed. :)

  7. Wow, a lot of this is really surprising to me!
    I always thought being left handed just made people more creative and made things harder when it comes to scissors, but that was about it.
    This really opened my mind, Peaches, thanks for sharing it!
    I don’t understand the life span thing at all. I mean, a lot of the things are hard to understand, but that one really stands out. Why would that possibly be true?

    • Peaches says:

      I didn’t thorw a couple of the facts in because it would have been a dead give away, but I think it has something to do with the fact that about 2/3 of lefties are men and men just die younger. Plus, a lot of lefties suffer with mental illness (suicide) or tend to be risk takers (soldiers and such). I don’t think the left handedness itself is what leads to it per se. I think it is the things that come with it. Thanks for reading!

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