Does knowing your traits and where you are from matter to you?

23andme

I Discovered Where I’m From Using 23 And Me

March 12, 2019

Many people in this world live their lives unaware of where they come from; some people have a sure sense of their own ancestry and have traditions to delve themselves in. I fall under the  lifestyle in which I don’t know much about my biological father and don’t have much sense of where my mother’s family is from. I have been asked more times than I can remember the unanswered question “Where are you from?” as I seem Caucasian at first glance but then receive the look of confusion as my hair is slightly thicker and my eyes a dark green that is not traditional in those of white descent.  

Over the summer, my mom, my aunts, and my grandmother all got 23andMe DNA and health kits. They each spit into these small tubes and sent their DNA off to be extracted. A few months later they received the results and were fascinated by what they discovered. Watching them find out all these new things from what country they’re from to what genes they have that make them sleep less made me realize just out important it was for me to discover where I’m from.

I finally got the 23andMe ancestry and health kit on my birthday in December and received the results in mid-February. The results were not what I expected at all. I was a mix of more things than I can remember and the detailed percentages were fascinating. I learned that I am 68.5% European and 29.9% Sub-Saharan African. More specifically I am 17.1% British and Irish and 19.4% Nigerian. Getting to know more about where I come from is something that has been extremely important to me because of the lack of knowledge on my ancestors and their past. This eager for knowledge on one’s history doesn’t just reside in me but in many people.         

“I’d like to know where I’m from because I’ve always told people that I’m just white but I want to understand more about my ancestry as one side is Jewish and the other is catholic” said Santaluces Chief Madison Elia.

Learning where I am from has answered a lot of my questions for myself and the questions others ask me. But it it still doesn’t answer some questions pertaining to who my ancestors were.Not knowing where you are from is a burden to some and hardly matters to others. It’s all a matter of what is important to one’s self. The more important question to ask is -which matters more: genetics or culture?

Santaluces Chief Jaciah Rashid said “ Culture matters more to me because it plays a large role in a person’s definition of who they are and what they stand for. On the other hand, genetics is not something that can be chosen by an individual and tailored to fit their needs.”

After taking this DNA test, I was anticipating having all my questions answered about my history. But after receiving the results I realized how much more there is to learn about myself beyond the genetic aspect. The DNA test simply left ,e with even more questions. It made me think about how important culture and tradition is for people and their identity. Having a strong sense of your cultural background gives that person a connection with their ancestors that cannot be found in percentages of DNA. But for some people, including myself, DNA results may be the closest thing I get to learning about my family and their history.

Not having a full understanding of your cultural background is not necessarily a bad thing either. Personally, I find the memories and traditions I have and create with my family now brings that sense of tradition I once thought was missing. Sometimes, it takes learning something you thought you needed and being not fully satisfied to realize what you needed was right in front of you the whole time.

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