right brain, left out

I’ve always been a creative person. I’m enamored with color and design and imagination. I see things differently from a lot of people. As a kid, it was frustrating. Why couldn’t math just magically make sense to me? Why wasn’t my first reaction to see the logical solution? Why was my answer to a question always so different from everyone else’s?

Growing up in a family of left-brained people, I thought there was something wrong with me. So I put my creativity in the closet, treating it like that winter coat you use only when you need it but ignore during the other seasons.

Over the years, I’ve slowly come to accept my creativity, to open the closet and let my dominant right hemisphere roam freely. And a big part of that process was a book – A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. It was therapy for me. Until I read that book, I had never thought of my creativity as an asset. I always thought of it as something I needed to hide at school or in the workplace, only indulging in it at home.

A Whole New Mind showed me how my right-brained thinking would actually be a benefit in a world that is recognizing the value of design and creative problem-solving. It told me there was nothing wrong with being right-brained. And through my master’s program, I discovered that other people actually wish they were more creative. I was floored. I hadn’t thought of creativity as something people might want. In a world that rates doctors and lawyers higher than artists and writers, it’s easy to undervalue creativity.

I still struggle with it sometimes, accepting my creative, right brain. I feel pressured to say goodbye to my writing and creative projects and find myself a practical, left-brained job. I do actually enjoy using my left brain. It makes me great with details, fantastic with editing and grammar. But when I completely stifle my right brain, it usually ends in an explosion of artistic endeavors. (Seriously. The last time I tried to ignore my right brain, I ended up with a whole collection of handmade beaded jewelry. I couldn’t stop making jewelry.)

In this world, there are always opportunities for left brain exercises. My challenge has been to let my right brain lead the exercises. It’s hard to reach an appropriate balance, but I’m hopeful I can find a job that allows me to use my practical, left-brained perfectionism without completely ignoring my creative side.

In the meantime, I’m celebrating my visual creativity by choosing fabulous colors for our house, scoping out furniture, and brainstorming layouts. (You’ll hear more about my left brain vs. right brain painting adventures on Thursday.)

In the meantime, it’s your turn to talk. Are you more left-brained or right-brained, and how do you feel about that? Has it ever made you feel out of place?


  1. Beth Pensinger
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 19:43:31

    I’ve always liked listening to my right side. My brothers, however, got ridiculous homemade gifts for quite some time…
    I’m excited for you to be celebrating your visual creativity right now!


    • halee
      Aug 16, 2012 @ 13:14:43

      Beth, I totally understand the random handmade gifts. Story of my life.

      Natalie, sounds like you’ve got a pretty good balance, which is going to be super-useful for you!


  2. natalie
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 12:57:51

    It depends for me. I’m left brain dominate, but not by much. So at school for instense, you would find me doing math and thinking about characters within the same 2 minutes.



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