23andMe - My Experience

Sophomore year, I learned about a company called 23andMe in my Biology class. I've always been interested in genetics and ancestry, and the whole idea of someone being able to tell me where I came from is extremely appealing. So for my eighteenth birthday gift, I asked my grandparents if I could try it. My mom was also interested, so we both decided to do it. Since it takes so long to do, I ordered the kits in September and started the process as soon as they arrived. The kits themselves came very quickly, and they looked like this:

The day after it arrived, I opened it up and read the manual. Inside was a small tube, a cap to secure on the other end, and a plastic bag to put the tube into when you mail it back. 


Spitting into the tube reminded me greatly of the time I attempted to take part in a study at Stanford a few years ago (which I talked about a few months ago). The tube may look small, but when you have to spit a certain amount inside, it suddenly seems much bigger. Once the tubes were filled, my mom and I finished packing them up and got them ready to mail back to 23andMe the next day. We left for my school about ten minutes earlier the next morning and went past the post office. Once they were mailed, it was about a month of waiting. 

A few weeks ago I had a Monday off of school and spent the morning working off some more community service hours (because I'm graduating in almost seven months...). When I got home, I checked my email and was pleased to discover that my results were ready. I went to the website to see them. As it turns out, I'm *trumpet sounds*

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How's that for obvious? As I delved into the results, I learned that I am:

36.2% British and Irish
32.4% French and German
21.7% Broadly Northwestern European

2.5% Italian (cue my mouth wide open in surprise)
0.9% Broadly Southern European

0.6% Eastern European (more surprises)
5.7% Broadly European

I knew for sure that I was British, French, German, and Eastern European (though I was expecting a higher percentage.) What I had no idea about was the Italian. Although a very tiny percentage, it was still really cool to discover. Since my mom did it too, I was able to calculate what I got from her and what I got from my dad's side, which was also really interesting. 

All in all, this was a cool thing to do. As I've gotten older, I've tried to learn as much about where I came from as possible. Luckily, I come from a family of storytellers who have been telling me things like this for as long as I could remember. Even though I knew most of this already, this was another piece of me figuring out where I came from, who I am, and who I want to be. I think that's a big part of growing up. You can't figure out where you want to go until you've figured out where you've come from. Your past, whether it be your ancestry or your childhood, is a part of you- a big part of you. I'm really glad I did this, and I highly recommend it. Who knows, maybe you'll learn something you didn't know at all, or what you thought will be confirmed. Either way, it's a cool experience and helps you learn more about yourself.