When I was in elementary school, I was scolded quite a bit because I wouldn’t follow directions during lessons on handwriting. It’s not that I was a defiant child, but rather a left-handed one that didn’t understand why I had to turn my paper to the right or why they made me curl my hand all the way around to write from the right. It was more logical to just tilt everything to the left! I eventually won the battle, but I learned very early on that being lefty meant being different. I suppose that’s why I embraced my oddities and nerd status long before before adulthood.
Even though lefties aren’t singled out nearly as much as they were twenty years ago, I remain very aware that I live in a right-handed world. I still have to hold a manual can-opener at a weird angle and adjust the blade on a pair of scissors to make them work. Even Wreck This Journal is geared for right-handers, with a page that states “Write or draw with your left hand.” It made no sense for me to do that as its nothing new, so I altered the directions to include both hands.
I decided to do a little drawing and writing in order to observe how switching sides would effect me in more than one realm. The results were quite surprising and very enlightening at the same time.
For the left, drawing has always been something that doesn’t come easily to me unless I treat it like a doodle and let go of my perfectionist tendencies. I ended up with a cute coffee cup doodle and neatly written label. Next, I picked out some fun colors and gave some life to my doodle. Overall, it was easy and I expected it to be. I could pay attention to TV while I colored and I didn’t have to think too much about what my hand was doing. My only struggle was deciding whether I liked my doodle.
The right side was a completely different story. The moment I picked up the pen, I felt weird and disoriented. My brain was hollering at me, “What are you doing? That’s the wrong hand!” I tilted the journal to the right and started drawing a mirror image of the coffee cup. My immediate attitude going into the drawing was very different in that there was no sense of wanting or needing to be perfect. I knew it was going to turn out bad, so there was no pressure whatsoever. I didn’t even have to tell myself it was a doodle instead of a drawing. The sense of freedom was incredible.
The label, however, was much more difficult as my brain had a hard time processing how to make each letter. I literally had to think about it and that took all of my focus. The TV suddenly became an irritation rather than a source of entertainment. I had to turn it off in order concentrate on making an “e.” Seriously!
Then, I took my crayons and started coloring with my right hand, which is something I’ve never done. Every nerve in my body told me to switch back to the left and I had to fight it every step of the way. Coloring is usually a very relaxing practice for me that requires very little thought, but not this time. Staying in the lines required some hardcore critical thought and it took an insane amount of time to complete the whole page.
Despite the struggle, I’m glad I stuck with it as the process gave me an interesting insight. Creativity thrives on seeing things from multiple dimensions and perspectives. It’s about discovery and trying something new without hesitation. My right hand may have made a mess, but it also showed me how to tap into a brand new sense of freedom.
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