Do a Google search on your own name and see what comes up. Even better, do a Facebook search because that comes with profile pictures. You will find yourself curiously wondering about the lives of all the people who share your name. Are these alternate realities of your own life, different versions of who you could have been? There are lots of other Karen Foleys out there. There are old Karen Foleys and young Karen Foleys and Karen Foleys of different races. Among the other Karen Foleys I’ve discovered a minister, a folk singer and a racy romance writer! So far I haven’t discovered any with extensive, criminal backgrounds or other embarrassing public facts! I wonder if the other Karen Foleys are happy. Did their lives turn out the way they had planned or are they drifting, experiencing mid-life crises or still young and trying to find their way? Was it destiny or just chance that I became this Karen Foley and not one of the others?
What’s in a name? Well, everything really. Naming our baby is one of the first major decisions we make for our children. While maybe not as important as choosing to eat healthy while pregnant or whether or not to have natural childbirth, it is a decision that has a major impact on the entire rest of our child’s life.
Think about it. If you know absolutely nothing about a person, in most cases you will, at the very least, know their first name. Names can propel us into greatness, or drag us down like a rock and a rope.
According to an article on NPR’s website baby names are actually divided around the country along partisan lines, with conservatives coming up with the more “unique” names and liberals choosing more traditional ones. Dissecting what that actually means from a sociological stand point would take more time than I have here, but I have my suspicions!
Apparently pop culture has a lot to do with the names parents choose. In fact, there is even something called the “Kardashian effect” which currently accounts for the popularity of the name Mason. While poor little Mason may have to deal with being one of a dozen or so Masons in his kindergarten class at least he doesn’t have to bear the burden of other celebrity children’s names such as Dweezel. Fortunately, while celebrity children’s names do catch on, it is usually the more traditional ones. While Jennifer and Jason reigned for many years as the most popular names currently the most popular names still happen to be rather normal; Sophia, Isabella and Jacob. Fortunately, names like Moon Unit and Apple just never really catch on.
While naming your child after your favorite pop star or sports hero is okay for some, I chose very traditional names for my children, or names that were part of our family history. Then again, I have never really been into what was “popular.” Of course, it might be a good idea to at least familiarize yourself with pop culture before you name your child. For example, when I chose my first child’s name, I had no idea that is was one of the most popular names in 1984 or that it was also the name of the lead character in a popular series of horror movies. Ooops! Fortunately, the popularity of those movies eventually wore off and he has suffered no long term effects.
Then, of course, there is the X effect. Who your X dates can have long term effects on how you or others feel about your name, especially if you continue to share a last name with your X. As Julia Louis-Dreyfus showed us in “The New Adventures of Old Christine” no one wants to be the “other one” least of all the “old one.” My first husband dated several Karens after me and I worried for awhile about being the “Old Karen Foley.” Fortunately, he eventually moved on to another, less popular name – Jennifer?
I wonder if any of the other Karen Foleys would like to trade for a few days. Maybe one of them could be the middle-age blogger and I could spend some time as a Harlequin romance writer! Or maybe there is a Karen Foley who lives in some place tropical who has always wanted to live in New England. Sounds like a plan. In the meantime I will try to make the other Karen Foleys proud, or at the very least, not embarrass them too much!