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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Ancestry Journey: My 23andMe Results

I've run out of things to watch on TV. Actually--that's entirely false--I have too many television series on my watch list but I've become bored with the same shit.  A friend of mine had been suggesting for me to read/watch the Outlander series.  Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with the Outlander series--let me provide you a brief as fuck synopsis--

"In 1946, former World War II nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank are visiting Inverness, Scotland, when she is carried back in time from the standing stones at Craigh na Dun to the 18th century."

Once I watched the first episode--I was hooked.  It became an obsession--an actual problem.   I'd go to sleep with the theme song stuck in my head and I'd wake up hurrying to the television to pick up where I left off.  I'd have dreams of Inverness and the standing stones from Craigh Na Dun.  Eat, Sleep, Work, Outlander.  It became an escape.  But who could blame me?  I was immediately captivated by the storyline which was a nice blend of history, chivalry, romance, fantasy and science fiction.  But more importantly--I became absolutely enthralled with Scottish history, culture, and the landscape.

By the time Christmas arrived and my parents asked me what I wanted--I got straight to the point.  I asked for a 23 and Me DNA Kit.  I felt so incredibly nerdy for asking.  Out of all the things I could have asked for, I was asking for something scientific.  But I was getting excited to learn more about my background.  Throughout my entire Outlander binge, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe--somehow--someway--I could have Scottish roots... 

I'm not going to lie to you here--I was nervous when I started gathering my 'spit' sample.  I was worried that I would fuck it all up, send it in and then wait for 6 weeks only for them to tell me that they couldn't process my results because I couldn't do something as simple as gathering saliva in a tube.  Before I could provide my sample, I had to be sure not to eat, drink, chew gum or brush my teeth at least 30 minutes before collecting any of my saliva.  Because I am such a worry wart, I waited 2 hours beforehand.  (I wasn't about to fuck this up.)  The next step as instructed--you had to gather as much saliva in order for it to reach to the line on the tube.  And by saliva--they mean actual spit--not spit bubbles.  Do you even realize how many times I had to suck in my cheeks just to gather saliva that WASN'T spit bubbles?  This shit--no joke--took me at least ten minutes.  Once I had enough to fill the tube, I closed it, carefully secured it in the biohazard bag and shipped it off for testing.

One thing you have to know about me is this--I'm very impatient.  I hate waiting.  I hate waiting in line.  I hate waiting for Christmas to get here because I just want to rip open all my presents the second I see them.  I hateeeee it.  It's such a mind-fuck to me.  I want my results and I want them now--ya dig?  But--I had no choice here.  I was told that I would receive my results in 6-8 weeks once they were received by the lab.  6-8 weeks of checking the 23andMe app on my phone to see if they were miraculously done early.  6-8 weeks of crossing my fingers hoping that I had some Scottish ancestry.  I was trying not to think about it, but that was impossible.  I was just too excited about all the answers I would receive.  Waiting is the worst part of it all.

One afternoon while I was getting my nails done, I got a notification from 23andMe telling me that my results were now ready for viewing.  I nearly scared my nail technician to death because I had a sudden outburst of excitement.  Immediately following my shriek, I began to feel extremely anxious.  And the anxiety was real.  REAL I TELL YOU!  Why was I so nervous to look at something I was waiting for?  Maybe I would be disappointed with my results? I wasn't sure why.  But I can tell you this--I wasn't disappointed...

I wasn't all that surprised when I read that I had 78.4% European Ancestry.  In fact--I don't really think that should surprise anyone--have you seen how white I am?  But what was even more surprising was the breakdown in statistics when it came to specific regions in the Northwestern Region of Europe...
  • 73.3% of my European Ancestry is Northwestern.  According to my Ancestry Composition, it states that; "Northwestern Europeans are represented by people from as far west as Ireland, as far north as Norway, as far east as Finland, and as far south as France. These countries rim the North and Baltic Seas, and have been connected throughout much of history by those waters." (See map below).  
  • 49.5% (the highest percentage in my European Ancestry) is primarily British and Irish.  According to my Ancestry Composition, it states that; "When modern humans first arrived in the regions now known as Great Britain and Ireland tens of thousands of years ago, these two regions were physically joined to one another. Today the people of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland descend from Celtic, Saxon, and Viking ancestors."   
  • 4.7% is French and German.  According to my Ancestry Composition, it states that; "Connected to the British Isles, Scandinavia, southern Europe and eastern Europe, France and Germany have seen myriad peoples come and go over the last ten thousand years. Genetically and geographically the French and Germans are at the heart of Europe."
  • 4.0% is Scandinavian.  According to my Ancestry Composition, it states that; "The earliest people of Scandinavia hunted reindeer and seals and fished for salmon. By 4000 years ago these hunter/gatherers had been joined by cattle herders from the south. Although at the northwestern periphery of Europe, Scandinavia has never been completely isolated from peoples to the south and east."

This map below gives a you a sense of the geography at a much closer look.  Starting at the tip of the boot of the UK is Scotland, Heading down you reach England and just across the Irish Sea is Ireland.  You can imagine what sort of migrations occurred at this time.  Did the people of Ireland cross the Irish Sea towards Glasglow?  Did the people of England migrate to Inverness?  No doubt there are patterns of migrations that have been studied by Archaeologists alike.  There will always be an itch to travel--to explore--to discover something outside of what you know.

73.3% of my European Ancestry is Northwestern, but the oldest and the second highest percentage that follows is my British and Irish Ancestry which is 49.5%.  At first glance one would probably just assume that 'alright Meg you got some Brit and Lucky Charm in you, what's the big deal?'  Does that mean I'm strictly British or strictly Irish?  I doubt it.  Did my ancestors come together to blend their ethnicities?  And if so--what happened when their two unique backgrounds collided?
And then I began to wonder how far my ancestry goes back.  One of the fascinating components to my 23andMe results is their Ancestry Timeline.  This timeline is comprised of each population in my DNA.

How many generations ago was your most recent ancestor for each population?

According to this timeline provided by 23andMe, I most likely had an ancestor that was born between 1900 and 1960 that was 100% British and Irish.  That's incredible!  My British and Irish ancestry is the oldest on the timeline out of all the other regions.  The only thing I'm bummed about is that it doesn't narrow things down from that point--you're practically left to take things a step further--and that's what I'm doing right now.  This is where things become interesting.  This is where my journey begins...

Today the islands of Great Britain and Ireland descend from Celtic, Saxon, and Viking ancestors. 

Celtic Ancestry jumps out at me more than the others at this point.  Why?  Mother-Fucking-Scotland.  That's why!  That sentence was staring at me right in the face with bagpipes sounding off in the background.  The highest percentage in my European Ancestry are derived from Celtic, Saxon and Viking Ancestors.  And the Celtic culture was very much a part of Irish, Scottish and Wales populations.

Lets focus on the Celtic nations for a minute here--what were the Celtic nations comprised of? The Celtic nations are territories in western Europe where Celtic languages and cultural traits have brought people together who share a common identity and culture in one territory.  The six Celtic nations are split into the following territories: Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. (As Featured Above.)

This data is leaving me with more questions than answers.  And maybe that's a good thing.  I can't help but wonder which piece of the pie is larger?  My British ancestry or my Irish Ancestry?  If the islands of Great Britain and Ireland descend from Celtic, Saxon and Viking ancestry--would it even matter who dominated who in the ethnicity pool?  Are my Celtic roots seeping thru more than any other ancestor?

I was extremely overwhelmed.  I know this sounds absolutely ridiculous because my obsession for Scottish culture was derived from some work of fiction.  But I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.  I was drawn to this show.  I could have hated it the first 11 minutes in to watching it, but I didn't.  I was immediately sucked in.  Maybe there's a reason why I love the Gaelic language.  Maybe there's a reason why I love Scottish music (See below).  Maybe there's a reason why I find bagpipes to be so soothing. Maybe there's a reason why I love Celtic folklore.  I could see the light bulb begin to flicker in the darkest corners of my brain.  Everything was slowly beginning to click.  And it all seemed extremely emotional and a tad bit overwhelming.  (Don't judge me!)  I feel like I'm on my way to discovering who I am and the people who came before me in this crazy journey...

I could have just looked at my results, shrugged my shoulders and called it a night--but I didn't.  This shit fascinates the hell out of me.  And there's a reason why.  For those of you who don't know--I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in History.  Anthropology is the study of human societies and the development of cultures.  (I had to provide an actual definition since people confuse Anthropology with Paleontology.  One is about people--the other is about dinosaursFun fact for the day.)  I've always been fascinated by various cultures and how that culture brings people together.  As I've gotten older, Hstory gets more and more fascinating because it's just one giant story.  So you can imagine my inner nerd shrieking with joy over this whole thing. 
 I won't lie to you--a part of me has felt that my time in college was a waste.  All those years of pursuing my higher education left me feeling disappointed. I'm not even using the degree I went to school for and it fuels me with such sadness and regret.  But as I've started researching through my Ancestry, I became inspired.  I've come to realize that I'm actually using my degree.  A glimmer of hope was beginning to pierce through the darkest shroud of failure that I've felt for so long--I finally feel like I have a purpose.

My Ancestry Journey has left me wondering what else I could research and possibly uncover.  Did my ancestors have a Celtic background?  And if so what was life in Celtic Ireland like?  How did they live their life?  What were some of their challenges?  What brought them together?  Or did my ancestors have more of a Viking background? 

Maybe this is the first part of many pieces of an incomplete puzzle that I'm just starting to piece together.  Each step that I take in this process is bringing me closer and closer to finding out the prequel to my own story.  We all have a unique history that makes us who we are.  Keep digging for information.  Find similarities of what you like and find similarities to that of your ancestry.  Uncover the missing pieces to your puzzle.
Completely unrelated yet super epic but---doesn't this woman look like me?  I'm almost certain this is my doppelganger.
Celtic Ireland Woman

I'm very excited to announce that this is just the first post in my Ancestry Journey Series that I will be working on.  I will be doing a series of posts with information about my Ancestry!  Be sure to subscribe to my blog and all my social media so you don't miss out!

Have you tried 23andMe? 

What were some of your results?  Let me know!

Be sure to use the following hashtag #theancestryjourney so I can see your journey/progress whether you've used 23andMe, Ancestry DNA, or any other DNA program! 


  1. You never fail to amazing me with your beautiful writing Meg. I look forward to your ancestry journey. ��

    1. You're so sweet Candice! I'm excited to share it with you!

  2. This is so cool! I know what you mean about waiting, it sucks balls. Seriously though, my mom has been super heavy into ancestry for years, I should totally get her one of these kits for her birthday, I am pretty sure she would lose her shit. -Sara

    1. Hi Sara! I definitely would recommend it! I'm also going to get Ancestry so I can narrow my results. haha.


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