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Why Being a Left-Hander Makes Everything So Much Harder

The simplest tasks aren’t so simple when you’re a southpaw.

You might think that being left-handed is a minor quirk that generally doesn't impede on one's daily life all that much. But if that's the case, you're probably a righty.

From shaking hands to cooking meals to writing birthday cards, being predominantly left-handed can make the little things that much more inconvenient. So, no matter which side you favor, it's time to learn the 13 reasons why everyday life is trickier for southpaws.

Doors become a liability.

left haded liability

Opening a door should be simple: You reach out your hand, turn the knob, and pull. But for lefties, it's more complicated than that.

"Door handles are placed on the door for right-handed people," says Anthony Kouri, MD, a resident in orthopedic surgery at the University of Toledo Medical Center and a proud lefty. "The handle is meant to be reached from across the body, while the door is pulled away from us. However, when operating a door left-handed, the door is pulled into your face."

Needless to say, it can cause a minor collision if you're not careful. Moving through the world shouldn't be this challenging!

You leave smudges everywhere you go.

Lefty Writing in Notebook with blue pen

Trying to jot down a note, let alone compose a lengthy journal entry or thoughtful card, soon turns into a smudgy mess for lefties.

"I take a ton of notes in my notebook, which often I smudge or have to rewrite," explains Samantha Wenig, vice president at London Misher Public Relations. "I also use the back of pages so it's more left to right. This is a common #leftyproblem."

Handshaking is forever awkward.

Shaking hands mortgage payment {priorities after 50}

One of the first things we learn about making a good impression is the importance of a firm handshake. This puts lefties at an immediate disadvantage because they're forced to use their weaker hand at any meet-and-greet.

"As the majority rules, righties have dominated the tangible greeting by extending their right hand to shake," says Janet Rich Pittman, a certified dementia practitioner, columnist, and author of 9 Signs Your Experiencing Brain Drain. Those righties strike again!

You're always getting into elbow collisions at the dinner table.

dinner party, lefty problems

Simply sitting down to enjoy a meal with family or friends requires tactical maneuvering when you're a southpaw. If you aren't strategic about whom you sit next to or how you position your chair, you might end up with bruises before dessert is served.

"Eating at a table with other right-handed people will almost surely result in you banging elbows all dinner long," cautions Jessi Beyer, a speaker, personal development coach, and a lefty.

And you might sip the wrong drink.

Friends Drinking Wine

Even if you're not knocking into your meal companions, you might have another issue at the dinner time: grabbing someone else's beverage by mistake.

"Based on place settings and common etiquette, drinks are kept to the right of each person," says Kouri. "A person used to using their left hand might inadvertently reach for the drink of the adjacent person."

It's no big deal if you're with family or friends, of course; but this could certainly pose a problem if you're at a formal dinner with your boss or someone else you're trying to impress.

Peeling vegetables makes a big ole mess.

woman cooking healthy food following recipe

If you're a lefty trying to prep dinner, that's a whole different challenge. You have to be a bit more clever about your strategy peeling carrots and potatoes for a stew.

"Vegetable peelers are designed so that when you use them with your right hand the blade is on top," says Kouri. "This allows the user to pull the peeler toward them. When using these left-handed, you are forced to push the peeler awkwardly away from your body." Luckily, there are special left-handed peelers you can buy.

Using a hand mixer spins into a major nuisance.

electric egg beater, hand mixer, diy hacks
Shutterstock/Olga Dubravina

Another kitchen appliance that's not lefty-friendly? Hand mixers.

"The cords on all of the food mixers I've used come out of the wrong side for left-handed people," says Beyer. "The power cord is always falling in your food bowl and near your spinning beaters when you're trying to use it."

And coffee and measuring cups create challenges too.


Even a simple cup of coffee can be a cruel slight to those who are left-handed. Because of the position of the handle, when you hold the mug in your left hand, the logo or image faces away from you. Rude!

And it's a similar situation with measuring cups: Metric measurements that are rarely used in U.S. recipes are the ones you'll see when holding the cup with your left hand. Not helpful if you're an American left-handed amateur chef!

Using standard scissors is near impossible.

scissors office supply facts

Trying to trim off a tag on a new shirt or cut a piece of paper becomes an exercise in inconvenience when you are left-handed. Even trying to hold a pair of scissors in your left hand is tougher than it should be!

"The scissor blades are angled in a way that complements right-handed people, but makes it nearly impossible for left-handed people to use them," says Beyer. "I can very rarely use scissors unless they are specially designed for lefties."

Three-ring binders are a major pain.

3 ringed binder

Objectively, three-ring binders can be temperamental: Sometimes the rings don't close all the way, or you accidentally tear holes in the looseleaf, causing the pages to slip out. But for lefties, binders are even more challenging.

"The rings on these are made for right-handed writers," explains Kouri. "When using these as a lefty, the hand cannot lay flat on the notebook. The only real solution to this is to slide your hand between the rings to lay it flat." Not very comfortable, to say the least.

Standard cameras are hard to click.

man in denim shirt with black glasses holds camera in front of computer

Trying to capture the moment with an actual camera proves challenging for lefties because the button for snapping the image is always located on the right side. At least Instagram doesn't discriminate.

Credit card machines favor righties.

person swiping their credit card

Lefties have good reason to prefer using cash. Credit card machines have the card swipe on the right side, making charging it a difficult process for left-handed card holders. Luckily, the introduction of the chip reader has leveled the paying field, if you will. But this payment problem still comes up.

Phones and tablets are against them.

woman angry using computer

While recent innovations have removed some of the inconveniences that technology has presented for lefties, the fact remains that tech often favors those who are right-handed. For example, tapping the left side of the screen on an e-reader causes the book you are reading to go backwards. And most computer keyboards arbitrarily locate the numbers on the right side, which can be pretty annoying for lefties.

When left to their own devices, southpaws sure do run into some serious technical difficulties! And for more fun facts about your hands, shoulders, knees, and toes, here are 33 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Your Own Body.

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Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
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