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A Right-Brained Girl In a Left-Brained Society - Survival

Updated on June 19, 2015
I march to the beat of my own drummer and contemplate life while basking in nature's majestic beauty.
I march to the beat of my own drummer and contemplate life while basking in nature's majestic beauty. | Source

It's All Very Interesting

Recently I wrote a hub on how the US is a left-brained society. Basically I argued that US culture approaches economics, business and cultural nuances with a left-brained perspective.

I wrote that hub because I am right-brained. I also live in the US.

I have had an interesting time of it and find that my right-brained tendencies make for a never-dull life.

There's that amazing feeling of being "on top of things" - the top of a mountain.
There's that amazing feeling of being "on top of things" - the top of a mountain. | Source

Did You "Always Know" Your College Major, Or Did It Take Time to Figure It Out?

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When Did I Notice?

It wasn't until I was in college did I have the first inklings that I was truly a right-brained person. Oh, sure, there were signs before that: making bracelets for family members at Christmas, winning art contests and the like. But, I never new about being right-brained versus left-brained.

For my experience in higher education, I went to a small, private college. It wasn't typical. This college had classes that lasted 3.5 weeks, took a four-day break, and then went on to the next class.

I learned that I do not do well with minimal processing time. I really, really had a hard time on this particular system. Alas, we right-brained types must have sufficient processing time.

I had tried to transfer, but found out I would lose all my credits and basically a year's worth of studies if I left. So, I stuck it out, but it wasn't very pretty.

Let me back up. I loved school. I couldn't get enough of it. I would make my mom buy my school supplies in the middle of the summer so that I could smell them, look at them, feel them, and otherwise imagine the great things I would write and the problems I would tackle during the following school year. (This seems like a very right-brained thing to do.) By the time I graduated high school, I was valedictorian (in a class of 26, it wasn't that hard to beat out the other students for the top spot I don't think).

I was headed to college to major in biology. Now before you think, "Really? How left-brained is that?" you must know that I had these expectations, you see. I was used to helping my mom assist with her elderly patients in an assisted living center. I had administered saline, cleaned bedsores, dealt with insurance companies, fed people through feeding tubes. I felt confident that I'd go into medical sciences.

Then the right-brain kicked in. Was I doing that for the love or because I thought I was "supposed" to? I wasn't entirely sure, but I knew I loved biology and studying the life sciences because I loved helping people and I loved the outdoors. So, biology made sense, right?

I found out that I would have to take Calculus to fulfill requirements for my major. I signed up, having had a successful year in pre-calculus in high school. The class didn't make me cry...too badly. So, I signed up for Calculus II. For whatever reason, that class became an interminable nightmare. All I needed was a microwave and a sleeping bag and my address would have changed to my professor's office for all the help I needed.

I decided to take a break from the sciences for one class and take a literature class. But, I didn't fare well there, either. Writing paper after paper every other day and reading a novel every two days was just too much. There was no way I could organize my thoughts and sift through the mass of information.

So, I tried a chemistry class next. Whatever confidence I had left in myself was shattered with this class. Let's just say that three and half weeks of living, breathing and regurgitating chemical formulas and trying not to blow myself up nearly sent me to an early grave. That was not a very right-brained class at all.

For the next two years, I would drift in and out of majors until I finally settled on Anthropology. Why? Because I liked the fact that it incorporated history, world language, biology and even sociology all in one nice package. It also was like science-lite. I could have my biology without living through the horrors and nightmares of organic chemistry and physics.

This "drifting" though, I would later learn is a right-brained tendency. That is, if you're trying to force yourself to do left-brained things.

Skiing in the Colorado mountains is an essential part of my right-brained life.
Skiing in the Colorado mountains is an essential part of my right-brained life. | Source
Desert Turtle - 2009 Acrylic on canvas.   The American Southwest is the inspiration for lots of my paintings
Desert Turtle - 2009 Acrylic on canvas. The American Southwest is the inspiration for lots of my paintings | Source
A mural at a school I painted.
A mural at a school I painted. | Source

This Video Resonates With Me

On to Other Things

After studying Anthropology, I knew that for career choices I'd probably be somewhat limited. I had had a business management internship in college with a job offer upon graduation. It seemed like the sensible thing to do.

But, you might recall that right-brained thinkers can be spontaneous.

I only did what seemed logical to me.

I went skiing.

For two winters I taught little three year old children all the way up to adults. I also started subbing at a nearby school.

I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to stay in the Colorado mountains in the summer, in-between ski seasons. I found a job at a local marina. I could have a lake with mountains jutting up as my office. Skiing in the mountains and sailing on the lake really had a certain appeal. A right-brained thinker's dream, right?

Yeah, until boredom set in. The old right-brain kicked in and told me I had to do something besides run the counter at a marina. I tried to shut that voice off by painting a mural on one of the marina walls.

I had also met the love of my life. He needed to be near his ailing parents...1400 miles away in North Carolina. I didn't mind dropping everything and heading across the country. I was craving something spontaneous...again.

And, ya know, that part of me that loved school? I knew that if I was going to get married, I'd do it for the long haul. I was adamant about that. So, I studied marriage before getting married and got my husband-to-be on board with that. We're ten years strong and still learning cool things about each other.

But, something else disturbing happened to me once I moved to the bible belt.

I left organized religion and began a journey of finding my own path.

I had been raised Catholic and for most of my college career I really struggled with it. My questions went unanswered by clergy and by Christianity in general.

I tried on other churches like I tried on clothes. Nothing fit right.

After years and years of trying to conform to the left-brained organizational structure of religion, I found my peace. I became spiritual - another right-brained tendency.

I also began to paint - a lot. I also did a lot of other arts and crafts like knitting, macramé and beading.

I even tried to make a business out of it. But, that's a left-brained activity. The whole business model eluded me and I could never market myself the way I knew I was supposed to. I was not willing to spend the money on it. (Here's an interesting thing: I'm a frugality-freak. I actually think that has more to do with being female and requiring a certain measure of security more than right-brain, left-brain issues here.) I was also unable to "put myself out there" to sell my products. I couldn't objectify myself or the things I created with such love. Yes, being subjective is a right-brained trait.

So, I had to give up on that idea. Plus, I didn't really welcome the idea of being a starving artist. So, now, I paint for pleasure only. I'm all right with that. I make crafty presents for everyone I know at Christmas, too.

My Current Career

After returning to school to study Spanish (I already spoke it...well, I spoke Spanglish, anyway), Fine Art and Education, I figured I'd find the right-brained utopia of a career, right?

Well, I've learned a thing or two. Though I am a quixotic dreamer, I've been beat over the head with the fact that there is no perfect job. That and being a teacher is not very creative - at least not where I work. Lots of people mistakenly believe that it is, but adhering to a schedule and cranking out prescribed lessons, attending meetings, keeping up with current methodologies, tending to behavior issues, and filling out paperwork is not only exhausting but it's very left-brained.

So, for now, I'm a round peg in a square box. I try to focus on the right-brained aspects of being a teacher: the very interesting students I meet, looking for outlets to let my Latina sarcasm fly, and I make sure that I combine art and Spanish as much as I can in what I teach. I also dabble in storytelling.

This leads me to my dreams, because right-brained people do that all the time.

My Dream

You know how when you're a kid you have big dreams of being an astronaut or a firefighter or a doctor?

I still have those sorts of big dreams, but they've taken an interesting turn.

I read a hub this morning about a guy who rejected the normal work routine. I even commented on it because it reflects my mentality.

Actually, I have too many dreams to list. But, here are the big ones:

  • To build a tiny house of my own somewhere in the middle of nowhere, preferably a forest.
  • To never work for anyone else again after ending my teaching career.
  • To travel the world and do a lot of hiking and mountain biking.
  • To paint and write and grow my own food.
  • To wake up each day and ask myself, "What do I get to do today" and not "Geez, I have to go to work today. There's no choice in the matter."
  • I have this secret desire to sell everything - the house, the possessions I don't need - and buy an RV and drive around the US and Canada. I'd do Mexico, but I'm a little scared of the drug cartels down there.
  • If I do stay in my house, I'm frugal and insane enough to try to pay the mortgage off in as few years as possible. The current goal is ten years. Then I won't be a servant to any financial institution.
  • Ever heard of the Camino de Santiago in Spain? I've wanted to hike it since I was 19. One day, I will.

These are a few of my right-brained dreams. Maybe I'll get to them, and maybe I won't. But they're the tools I have in surviving in a left-brained society. That and finding those creative outlets wherever I can is absolutely critical.

Pardon me while I go paint another mural at a school....

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun

Comments and Other Right-Brained Musings

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    • Mark Pitts profile image

      Mark Pitts 5 years ago from United States

      I'm married to someone a lot like you, and she is so much better than I deserve (most of the time).I suppose I have a lot in common with her, too. Great piece, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I love the way your story is wound through your work, too.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hey, thanks, Mark. :) I feel like my hubby puts up with a lot, too, haha. Here's to right-brained creativity!!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I think society needs both to be truly worthwhile. The challenge is for both left-brain and right-brain folks to find a fulfilling place. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Indeed, alocsin. I think if we all took the time to look at things from both perspectives, we could do a lot to help the woes that are occurring in our society right now. Of course, it wouldn't fix everything, but I think it would help people go a long way in terms of tolerance and innovation.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi, Oh how I agree with you! total right brainer, left handed southpaw! ha ha! I couldn't organise a party up in a brewery! note that I changed the word there! lol! I am useless, when you mentioned your want to do's in the list above, I was mentally ticking them off! yes yes and yes too! I worked in an office for years, and even though I loved it, for the people, I didn't like the set regime of the work, I want to paint write and live in a muddle! so that's what I am doing, well, not so much of the muddle! I wouldn't find my way out of the front door! lol!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Nell, I LOVE your comment. How refreshing!! It seems like right-brained types completely understand what I'm saying here. I think my left-brained friends truly think I'm insane. Oh well. I'll just live in the "right" world. hahahaha

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love this hub and can see myself in it throughout. It was so confusing growing up knowing what the regular world expected and how they acted and knowing that something just wasn't quite right in the way I acted and the things I expected. It took me a very long time to figure it out and that it was.....OKAY! Thank you for putting into words what I have felt for decades!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Aw, billybuc - such a warm, wonderful comment. When I wrote this, I, too, was finally affirming that it's okay to want to do different things and explore the world in a different way. :) I'm really glad you could identify with this.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 5 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I am a software engineer-- pretty left-brained, right? But I hate being called an "engineer" and I have felt-- as you put it-- like a square peg in a round hole. When I write hubs, I try to pay attention to keywords and other techniques to draw attention, but my core says it's more important to write as well as I can about things I care about. I'd make a lousy businessman. Great hub, voted up and funny and interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, UnnamedHarald - I'm glad you liked this. Shhh, I'd make a terrible businesswoman, too! Believe me, I've tried. I end up listening to peoples' life stories and feeling like their personal counselor. Hahaha. Thanks for stopping by! :)

    • profile image

      elrenec 5 years ago

      Ello,

      your piece is like putting allot of the things that i have been feeling but putting it into words.... my friends always tell me Im the most right brained person they have ever met. when i did tests at school and had to go the psychologists for test for my ADHD as well i was always tested like a 75% right brain.

      i always thought my need to leave and run and go somewhere else like i have ants in my pants was just me... i nearly quite school twice(wanted to go tech kids in africa).... now im at varsity i feel strapped in... tied down. and its suffocating me.

      im currently studying a teaching degree. but i will most probably never teach. it terrify's me.

      i related so much to this piece and my friends and family don't get it cuz they are all very dominant left brains.

      nice to know im not alone.

      Hope ur dreams come true...

      Elrene Cousins

      -South Africa

    • elrenec profile image

      elrenec 5 years ago

      Sorry about the spelling mistakes and English errors.... i kinda didn't read through it before i posted

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Ah, yes, the right-brained phenomenon. I'm going through it right now...wondering what to do next. My own career (teaching) is fine but I've been doing it for six years. Not long by anyone's standards, but long enough for me. So, I'm going to do what my heart tells me do, with a little planning of course. :) With that said, have your family read this article (or one like it) - they may or may not be able to understand, but it might help them gain perspective. As for you - just as I had to do - embrace who you are. You can't change it - you can only work with it. When you figure it out, it will feel right. I hope your dreams come true, too, Elrene. We only have one shot at life, right? We've gotta make the best of it. ((HUGS))

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      Hehe, don't worry - I'm just happy you stopped by. :)

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 4 years ago from California

      Love this Hub! We have very similar goals and frustrations. I really want to hike the Camino De Santiago trail as well. I look forward to reading your writings from the trail. It's not a matter of if, but when. You will do it!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Availiasvision - hehe, I know I will one day - I've started saving up for it. :D I will post articles from the trail, too. Oh, yes I will! I might be right-brained, but I also have a level of determination that makes people wonder about me even more. Hehe. When I'm determined to do something, by golly, I'm-a-gonna git it done! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words. Perhaps I'll meet you on the trail!

    • profile image

      SydGirl 4 years ago

      Great post. I felt like I was reading my own life story at points, and then finding out the things I'm yet to discover. I had thought about teaching as my next option, but it's helped me to be a bit more realistic about it. I'm a through-and-through right-brainer and I've always felt guilty flitting from one career to another. I've had incredible opportunities and my family have been left speechless on numerous occasions when I've quit successful well-paying careers to go off and 'find myself'. Now they've almost come to expect it from me.

      Your post helped me to accept that I'll always be the kind of person that needs change and to search for something fulfilling. That there isn't one solution for me. And that it's ok too.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Cyndi - we are like twins across the ether, across the ether'net', across the ocean - like Nell I'm a south Paw and a full on right-brained thinker. I was also agreeing with everything on your do to/wish list and as well as that,I also have no religion but am a spiritual soul, finding my sense of being in nature rather than a belief in an organised religion. I got to the end of the article feeling deeply satisfied that there is a name for what I am - 'right-brained'. Brilliant article - shared n pinned n whatnot!

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 4 years ago from Cardiff

      Lol you sound a lot like me! I often don't feel settled, and I hate being stuck working for someone else, I just want to be free to be me! My hubby has to put up with my ever changing crafting tendencies (ATC and Smashbooking got picked up 2 weeks ago! Not a good idea) I try my hand at a lot of stuff, but rarely feel satisfied. I though I had chosen my perfect career, and got myself into a company I wanted to be in, or so I thought, but now it has come down to it I think I am already bored with the reality of it. Its not that I am lazy or anything I work one PT job to pay the bills and another PT job doing what I think I wanted to do to try to get somewhere with that but its just not really working for me at the moment. I still have the dreams of creative something that's just for me rather than because I have to. But like you I have that financial part that knows I need to earn money and save and survive in this world. Good luck with everything!

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      I absolutely loved this hub! I understand where you are coming from, as well. Especially the part where you wake up and ask what do I get to do today. Great outlook, and do it if you can! Thanks for starting my day off with a smile.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Julie - aww, kindred spirit! Thank you so much for your kind words! Yeah, I'm definitely a creative type. I do hope that by writing this, it'll give other creative types to just be as they are and embrace it. When I finally did, I know that I was able to settle into my own skin and stay there happily. :D Thank you again for coming by and reading. You are so sweet!! Hubhugs!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      daisydayz - haha, yeah, I'm definitely in the school of thought that life is just too short to waste it being miserable. To that end, I also think it's important to help others and I aim to do so with my writing. I hope that perhaps it'll allow people to really accept who they are and just roll with it. We all have talents and gifts to contribute and once we realize that, I think all of us will be on a very positive path to make a difference in the world. :D That's one thing I strive to do: make a difference. Thanks so much for stopping by! Hubhugs!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Mr. Archer - aw, thank you so much! I do hope that you get to indulge a bit and take those vacations to beautiful places! I am thrilled that you stopped by at another hub of mine and I'm deeply grateful for your feedback. Thank you so much! Cheers!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      SydGirl - indeed! Your feedback is awesome and I'm glad that it's helped. Really, we all have things to contribute and if we need to change it around, life just gets more interesting. :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 4 years ago from Texas

      I can certainly relate to this also!. After reading, I decided to google this and I took several tests so they could tell me what I already know. I'm right-brained too. I hate having a schedule of any kind and wish I could afford to just be me. I like my job in sales because I like people, but I have to go when they tell me and leave when they tell me!

      I'm not completely right brained, I am very good at math and I do try to be logical sometimes. But I'm creative and scatterbrained most of the time, but then, that could be due to age too!!

      Great hub, thanks for sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Lindalou1963 - hehe, I definitely consider myself right-brained, but for awhile, I did entertain the idea of majoring in math, biology, and other "left-brained" studies. I think at times I am center-brained (not entirely sure if that's the correct term). But, you're right - I think a lot of us can become dominant in one side of the brain or the other in our lives, depending on the situation. Thank you so much for stopping by! :)

    • profile image

      shukhrat2001 4 years ago

      Hello, great article! I am also right brain thinker like most of the people here. I have never wanted to work for somebody else and have always wanted to do my own thing, but know that if I start I will somehow give that idea up for something else. However, I have been very fortunate to travel to many different countries with my previous work, which I also gave up for leaving in the US. I don't know if I did the right thing by moving here, but for now, I am having really a hard time to finding a job. Can you please tell me what are fields a right person should look into, to be happy?

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      @shukhrat - well, I'm definitely not an expert in that arena, but I can tell you to go with your gut. If something seems right, then listen to that. I would say that with any job you pick, it's good to be as "autonomous" as possible so that you can have maximum creativity. :)

    • profile image

      Weirdo me 3 years ago

      Hi! That's cool. I guess drifting through is for left brainers too. I tried attending a media major and suffered terribly. I am a numbers and fact person. Thus, I lacked creativity. I major in business during college before trying media for fun. It was tough. I could not put logic to everything, neither could I study in colour metaphors. I realized I am more suited to study logical stuff such as business. cheers!

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