Who Do You Think You Are?

Why are we obsessed with genealogy?


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It seems that most people nowadays are doing ancestral research and building their family trees. Between shows like “Who Do You Think You Are?” and ancestry.com, people today really want to discover who they are and where their family came from. Why is that? Why are we obsessed with genealogy?

I think we all have our individual motives, but I believe there are also some universal questions and curiosities.

First off, we need someone or something to relate to. It reminds us of the human experience, that we are all here and have lived some amazing adventures. I think it even helps us to cope with death. We see these people who have gone before us, and somehow we can find peace in them when considering our own mortality. We are assured that we are never alone in life or death.

It also explains who we are and why we are. For myself, doing what little research I could has explained to me the reasonings behind my dark and frizzy hair. It shows me a family lineage of short people. I have come to understand my features, personality, and heritage. I have come to understand my genetics as well as my family’s history.

Genealogy is really quite fascinating. We learn about people, places and times we could never even imagine.  We learn about history that is not found in textbooks. We connect: we find new relatives or people we have somehow become disconnected from. There is so much more to ancestry than who begot whom.

My personal research has been limited, and will probably remain as such due to the secrets and lies within my family. I have learned more of who I am, though. What I have read has explained so much, though. I can look in the mirror and see the physical traits of my ancestors that I share with them. I see the legacy of where we came from and where we are going.

Most people looking at me would be surprised to know that I have found relatives of color, indigenous roots, and that I look like relatives on both sides of my family (I am clearly Hispanic, and yet I look exactly like my great grandmother: my Irish grandfather’s mother).

Genealogy can teach us so many things. We discover new people, places, and storylines that we never knew existed. The best part is that it reminds us that we are really all connected.

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