A bed with a night stand holding a potted cactus and a book titles "Wild at Heart".

How Spitting in a Cup Changed the Way I Look at Myself

There is no denying that at home DNA testing kits have become quite the fad, it’s no wonder with the impressive marketing campaigns that have dominated so many outlets. Regardless, I took the bait as someone who despite putting in the time and effort to build out my family tree through verbal stories and assumptions of my ancestry, wasn’t 100% sure what my make up truly was.

Admittedly, I have a very small family in terms of blood relations which has never really bothered me since I find myself surrounded by beautiful souls that I’m lucky enough to have been adopted into their families. But, undeniably, I did seek that marketed moment of finding out more about what made me, me.

With that, I ordered the Health + Ancestry kit from 23andMe, spit in the cup and mailed it off, ready to impatiently wait 4 to 6 weeks.

I think most melting-pot families choose a few core ethnicities to identify with. For me and my family, it has always been Spanish and Italian from my mother’s side and German from my father’s. So when anyone made a comment about me being of Irish descent, I would naturally protest, since I’ve always been told that, “We may have a pinch of Irish, but that’s it…” It’s fascinating the elements we take from to construct our identity.

It may seem foolish, but despite my red hair and freckle covered, porcelain skin, the results surprised me a bit.

I am a whopping 93% European and 6% Native American – Mexico, with the remaining 1% left unassigned. The European breakdown being predominantly British and Irish at 52.8%.

Definitely more than a pinch.

My immediate reaction was excitement followed by the feeling of contentment and confirmation.

The Health portion was important to me because it was the original reason I had worked at putting together my family tree, to have a better understanding of the potential health risks I may be up against in my lifetime.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Traits and Wellness sections covered under Health, varying from random to truly fascinating pieces of information. With around 27 different items to get lost in, a few stood out to me whether for a chuckle at the obvious, or had me diving into a complete breakdown of the reasonings for traits I possess. Many I never even considered as contributors to distinguishing factors of myself, such as the few listed below.

Red Hair: Likely red hair

Freckles: Likely a lot of freckles

Caffeine Consumption: Likely to consume less

Genetic Weight: Predisposition to weigh about average

Muscle Composition: Common in elite power athletes

I guess I never stopped for a second to acknowledge that so much of us is determined by our genetic makeup, that we have no control over and the rest is largely dictated by our environment and lifestyle.

While identity is arguably fluid, I’m thankful I took the time to learn more about me, my health and ultimately walk away with a better understanding of myself as a whole.

Has anyone else taken a DNA test? What was your reaction to your results?


Written by ashleighrenay

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