One of my best friends was a Karen. But not a Karen in the way modern culture has hijacked the name and left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Not only was she amazing, but one of the best bosses I ever had was also a Karen. Again not in a bad way.
So when the rise of the socially unacceptable way of being a Karen gained traction as an adjective more than a name, it has never sat well with me. To me, the name Karen brings back fond memories of laughter, love, and great life lessons from good friends. It leaves me longing to run up to her and give her that one last hug I never got to give before she was gone forever.
But modern culture has taken that name in a new direction. But what’s in a name after all? Every name we encounter brings back ideas and feelings from our own experiences with people who fly under the flag of that name. You could probably think of a name or two that you will always expect to come with a certain amount of crazy. But for every bit of crazy, there is an amazing person out there with a lot of cool in them.
Yesterday I met a Karen who joked that she wants to change her name to Friday, “Because everybody loves Fridays.” It got me thinking. How can that feel when you live your life being as cool as you can be, and then for some random reason, your name was chosen as the enemy in modern culture. To no fault of their own, it was no longer cool to be a Karen.
Karen is Cool
This is why I was excited to see a small brewery in my hometown working to change the stigma around the name. It’s a simple statement: Karen is cool. With the release of their newest beer the Karen is Cool IPA, Odd Otter Brewing is doing its part to change the world one pint at a time.
Take it however you might, it’s cool to be Karen. If you walk into Odd Otter Brewing in Tacoma, you will find a small brewery nestled between the hustle of downtown. The exposed brick and high ceilings seem to slow down life as the community gathers for a beer as they laugh, visit, and enjoy the day.
This is not a place for Karens, in the way we have come to use the term. Rather, it’s a place for the cool Karens to come be themselves, and to be welcomed by their neighbors. In fact, it is a place for everyone, from every walk of life to co-mingle and come together as a community.
Since the beginning of time, people have used sharing a drink as a sacred time to come together and find common ground. So it makes perfect sense that a place where we can share a drink together would take the chance to bring people together, to welcome the ostracized members of our community who were told they were not cool.
But it goes beyond the Karens of the world. Take a look at yourself. How have you felt on the edge of society? Have you felt like it was suddenly uncool to be yourself? Maybe you never felt like it was cool in the first place. However you have felt in the past, or are feeling now, there are two important things to keep in mind.
The first thing that you need to know is that we all have an inner Karen label of our own. We all have a thing that makes us feel a little, or very, uncomfortable when it comes to interacting with others. We all have that thing in the back of our mind that we hope does not come up when we walk into a room full of strangers.
Maybe it’s our education level, our body image, our age, or the way we talk, but that is perfectly alright. Because here is the good news: everyone in that room has something they are self-conscious about.
The key to success and happiness is being okay with it and learning to own it. I call it Owning Your Awkward.
The next thing you need to remember is that you have the choice in how much power you are going to give to the words of others. They can twist your name into a bad thing, throw labels on you, and send as much grief your way as they can muster, but those are just words until you accept them into your heart as truths.
I like to think of the words of others as fuel, like lighter fluid. They can douse you with them all they want, but the fire will not ignite until you give them the spark needed to combust. This works both for good and bad. You can get the most amazing pep talk from a friend, but unless you take action, no fire will light.
Own Your Awkward
It’s time to step back into society, Karens and all. Take back what you stand for, what your name means, and Own Your Awkward. You have the power to make anything about you cool even if others don’t see it right away.
To all the real Karens out there, I love you!
To my favorite Karen, I miss you.
To all the rest of you, take a moment today to reflect on your life, your comfort level in your own skin, and know that we all have the same internal struggles manifesting in different ways in each of us.
And to everyone, don’t forget the example of Odd Otter Brewing when they say: Karen is Cool!
Image courtesy of Odd Otter Brewing Company