I recently wrote a reply to a question raised on social media by my genealogy buddy Natalie Pithers from Genealogy Stories
At the time, like most of the things we write on social media, I wrote exactly what I felt at that moment in time, from the heart, but as I paused and stopped to think for a second, this really resonated with me, it actually stopped me in my tracks and made me think.
Since that moment, it’s been nagging at me and I have been continually drawn back to the answer that I gave to Natalie when she asked; “My ancestors inspire me to keep going and I love genealogy so much. What keeps you going?”
My reply to the question was:
“The feeling of “connection”, connection to ancestors past, connections to living family now, connection to new cousins, connection to “Genie” friends and colleagues and the feeling of being ‘part of something’ if that makes sense.”
Now we all research our family trees for a variety of reasons and there is no ‘one size fits all’, but this answer that I gave made me really think about, not necessarily why I started researching my family tree, but more about why I continue to research and why it has become both a passion and an obsession of mine and probably yours too. I want to feel ‘part of something’, I want to feel part of a bigger picture and have a greater sense of who I am, that comes from knowing who my ancestors were, where they came from and what their lives were like. How can I possibly know who I am, if I don’t know where I came from?
It’s the collective feeling of being a part of things that inspires me to continue to write and to continue to research. Feeling connected to my ancestors is just one part of that. Feeling a part of a ‘Genealogy Community”, with shared ideas, similar goals and aspirations and shared stories gives you a sense of ‘belonging’.
Within this sense of ‘belonging’, although it’s central and fundamental to everything that I do, is my own family tree and this is just one part of that connection process. It’s by collaborating, sharing and educating that we feel part of a much bigger community and feel part of a much larger picture.
Sometimes we feel an unexpected connection to something or someone, as family historians I am sure that we have all felt that “sixth sense” or Deja-Vu moment when visiting a place for the first time. When I first visited Dublin, I instantly felt a powerful ‘connection’ and sense of ‘belonging’, I later discovered that my Daniels family were from Dublin, is that ancestral memory or coincidence?
Sometimes we get drawn to an ancestor for some unknown reason, someone that piques your interest or draws you in, for a reason that you can’t always explain, you just feel ‘connected’ to that ancestor, and it’s hard to explain, I am sure that you have all experienced something similar.
Connection comes in many shapes and forms, belonging to your own nuclear family is the first connection we make and obviously one of the most important. After that we have an extended family, some close, some much further afield. Add into the mix your friends and colleagues and our sense of connections becomes much wider. You can widen that even further with social media and hobbies such as family history can make you feel connected to a whole new community.
I look at it like this, I might come from a small town, but that’s part of a wider district, which is part of the County, which again is part of England, the United Kingdom, Europe and the World, I am just a tiny fragment of all of that, but the connection we make from researching our trees, chatting online, meeting at genealogy shows, makes the whole world a much smaller place.
What makes you feel connected?
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