Tuesday, December 6, 2011

‘Mixed-handed’? That’s what I am?

I read an article today that placed me squarely in a 1% group. It was an odd sensation, it doesn’t exactly happen to me every day. With all the discussion around the “Occupy” protests of late, I associated the 1% label with this movement right away, naturally. So, I thought it would be interesting to look at some numbers, even though this has little to do with the article I read.

I just completed my MBA and started a great corporate finance job at Symantec, one of the world’s largest software firms. I live in Silicon Valley and I love my life. You could say I can relate better now than I could before to what it’s like to be the 1%. I honestly had no idea if my current education or income level would land me in a 1% group, so I wanted to find out. Well, it turns out that 9.9% of Americans have a graduate or professional degree, so my MBA doesn’t set me apart from the masses quite as much as I expected. Additionally, to be in the top 1% of income, I would have to make $344 K (as reported by the IRS in 2009) and I’m not there. Yet.

I suppose if we zoomed out to a global view I would land in the top 1% in both categories, but that doesn’t much matter because I’m a member of another 1% group: mixed-handedness. Wait, mixed-handedness? (Kind of a chore to say, but I guess it works.) You mean one of those people who do different things with each hand – sharing roles? Yep. Go ahead and say it (“weird. . .”), I’ve heard it before. Not in a hey-mom-look-at-the-creepy-carnie sort of weird, but different from what most people can relate to nevertheless. It surprises people when I tell them I’m kind of ambidextrous. Since I write and eat left-handed, I frequently get asked if I’m a lefty, to which I respond “kind of” and briefly outline that I write, eat, and shave with my left hand, but play sports, use scissors, knife, and mouse with my right. I get most confused with a serving spoon – it goes both ways. I also have memories of using scissors with my left hand as a child, but switching when I got tired of always trying to find a pair of left-handed scissors. Shooting and dribbling a basketball with my left hand and kicking a soccer ball with my left foot came fairly easy. So, while I think it’s safe to say I’m one of these mixed-handed folks, I am a bit more left-dominant in general.

Now on to what prompted this blog post in the first place. The Wall Street Journal published an article today entitled The Health Risks of Being Left-Handed. That got my attention (wouldn’t it get yours?). Good job, WSJ. I read it. Voraciously. It intrigued me to learn that 10% of people are left-handed, 1% are mixed-handed, lefties make about 10% less, 6 of the last 12 presidents were left-handed, and that lefties are more prone to undesirable conditions such as schizophrenia, dyslexia, and ADHD (what the. . .!!). Nice little roller coaster of positive and not so positive, huh? Check out this quote from near the beginning of the article: “Other recent research suggests that mixed-handedness—using different hands for daily tasks and not having a dominant one—may be even more strongly linked than left-handedness to ADHD and possibly other conditions.” Hey! Wanna ride a bike?! Squirrel!

One potential cause of the brain developing in such a way as to not be one of the standard right-handed population is extreme levels of stress during pregnancy. So what did I do? I immediately texted my mom.

Nothing too interesting or alarming came of it, but I guess I am 30 and don’t have any of these negative conditions, so I wasn’t really expecting anything to come from left field. It’s just something I had to check, y’know?

The article took an angle that these correlations and relationships can help identify and treat children as they are developing. Hopefully I’m out of the woods for landing on the “dark side” of being left-handed, but I’m sure several of my friends will quickly point out the various manifestations of these conditions in my behavior. Ha. Ha. Ha. :P

I just hope insurance companies don’t start asking about this.

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