This paper was written by one of our founders, Rob Warthen. We hope you find it helpful.
This is a journey. The best part is through this journey, you will have the opportunity to learn more about your ancestors and their offspring than most folks who know their parents do. I know more about my wife’s ancestors travels than I do my own. I remember the look in her eye when she got her mtDNA results and found out that she was Iberian. Yes it took me a while to explain that was just one small part of her ancestry from long ago. What I struggled with is understanding how just that little bit of new information was so incredible.
Soon after, the Family Finder test became available and we took that. I watched as she started a friendship with a gentleman in Ireland. He was one of her closest matches and has become one of her closest friends. They talk often. Because of her close ties to Ireland, she learned and said her wedding vows in Gaelic. Our wedding started about 15 minutes late, but over across the sea in Ireland, my wife’s “cousin” took out a glass of wine and grabbed a record to listen so he could celebrate our wedding. He randomly chose a track and it just so happened to end up being what Sue walked down the aisle with. He did this 15 minutes late, though. Same time she was walking down the aisle.
This is a journey. You will see new things and learn new things for the first time. Not as a toddler, but as an adult. You will have a new appreciation for every tiny bit of new information that you learn. Some of it will just be interesting. Other’s people’s direct ancestors that are descendants of your ancestors. Some of it will be exciting and you may feel it just fits. Still other’s will be a curiosity but you won’t find out until later why.
This is a journey. Enjoy every small detail. Remember what you do find are people who are ultimately related to you some how. When your gut tells you to look into something and learn about it, enjoy that journey. Look at it and see what happens. Ask questions about what you see to DNA experts and they can let you know the significance of that discovery. Not everything (such as the R1A1 YDNA of your matches) will be significant. The DNA experts have seen a lot of this and have learned (often the hard way) what works and what doesn’t work. So we are here to help guide so you don’t waste your time. But even though you may not have your answer now, the next day or even this year, you will learn new things about yourself and your ancestry.
So sit back and enjoy the journey. Savor every new item and know that each discovery and each failure brings you just one more step towards your goal.