It started in kindergarten. I believe it was the very first day.
Dressed in that double-knit polyester green jacket and white flowered shirt pictured above I was ready to transition from home to school. When I got off the bus and walked into the room, I noticed, immediately, that everything in the room was just the right size. There was the chair that held my tiny body perfectly, even my feet could rest flat on the floor. There was the story and nap time mat that I could sit on with room to spare. And there was my teacher, Mrs. Durkin, with her translucent skin, bright blue eyes and rusty-red hair. She was one-part authority and three-parts grandmother, the perfect welcome to this strange new world. I trusted her immediately.
"Okay boys and girls, let's get started. Pick up your pencil."
This was easy enough, until I looked at the kid to my right, the kid to my left and all the kids sitting across from me at the table.
I was the only person holding my pencil in my left hand. So, I switched it to my right hand and, as luck would have it, Mrs. Durkin saw me do this.
"Honey, put the pencil back in your left hand."
"But everyone's holding it in their right hand."
"Isn't it more comfortable in your left hand?"
"That's because you're left-handed. Now, put the pencil back in your left hand so we can begin."
And so I began: feeling different.
Imagine my delight when my tennis instructor told everyone in our group lesson to pick up the racket with our right hand and hold it just so.
I followed his instruction to the T, but I couldn't do a thing with the racket. I couldn't bounce the ball. I couldn't hit the ball. I might as well have held the racket in my mouth.
When my mom arrived to take me home the the instructor told her that I desperately needed an eye exam. A conversation ensued. He asked me to pick up the racket and show my mom just how much I sucked. But before the instructor could lob the first ball my mom explained, "She's not blind, she's left-handed." And off we went.
That second story has always been a bit of a sore spot for me because it usually garners a fair load of laughs and comments. My husband, having just heard it for the first time a few years ago, was laughing so hard he was crying when he squeezed out the question, "At any point did you consider switching hands on your own?"
It's taken me thirty-some odd years to realize: at every point in time I've considered switching hands so I could blend in because the only thing special about writing with your right hand is that no one notices when you do it. In truth, I never considered doing what made me feel most comfortable. I just decided, at the tender age of six, that I could be/would be/wanted to be more comfortable being uncomfortable if it meant I could be just like everyone else.
This is part of being human, no doubt. We're all so incredibly, beautifully different and all we ever want is to be the same. If we could just be comfortable in our own skin we could rock the world with our magic from the get-go.
I understand that being left-handed is not a big deal, despite the fact that people STILL comment when they see me pick up a pencil.
"I didn't know you were left-handed!"
Except that now it's usually followed by, "I am, too!"
And the reason for that?
Lefties happen to be a little more in touch with their intuition, and I'm finally a little more in touch with my tribe. it's just the way our brains are wired. I have a feeling Mrs. Durkin knew that when she quietly redirected my little self North. And, it's just a guess, but I think she would have taken a racket to that tennis instructor's head. But in all fairness, and possibly to his credit, I still suck at tennis.
What makes you different also makes you special. But you already know that right? Join me on the Field Trip to celebrate and strengthen the heart and soul of your matter. The 2016 Field Trip begins April 4th. Join today!