As a child I was really shy...and I mean REALLY shy. Sometimes I think that if I didn't have a twin sister, I probably wouldn't have had any friends growing up. At any rate, I was lucky to have a twin sister (who wasn't quite as shy as I was), and I was lucky to go to a small school where it was relatively easy to get to know the 20 or so kids that were in my class from Kindergarten thru 6th grade.
Fortunately, being in a group that small, I was the only Michelle in my class all those years - even though the year I was born, Michelle was the 9th most popular baby name for girls in the US! There were other kids in our class that shared the same name, and to prevent confusion our teachers just assigned them a nickname to go by (Jenny, Jen, Jennifer...), whether or not that was what they had been called all their lives. Being the shy child that I was, if there had been another Michelle in my class, I know I would have ended up as the designated "Shelly." I would never have spoken up to say "I don't want to be called Shelly" (heck, I didn't even correct people when they called me Jackie!), and thus I would have gone through much of my life as a Shelly, even though I am not a Shelly* in the least. (*I have nothing against the name/nickname Shelly, and I've actually never met a Shelly I didn't like. It just doesn't suit me.)
Anyways, to prevent my possibly shy (or extremely outgoing) children from having to go by a name they don't like just because there's more than one kid in their class with the same name, I've tried to pick names that aren't very common. That means doing research on my favorites to rule out any that may be too popular. (Abraham hasn't broken the top 100 in the last 125 years, so I think we're pretty safe with that one.) The Social Security Administration's list for 2012 isn't out yet, so here are the most popular baby names for girls born in the United States in 2011, in order of popularity from 1-10...
Sophia Greek "wisdom" In addition to Sophia (with a ph) being #1, Sofia is #19 and Sophie is #51 on the list. That's a lot of Sophias/Sophies/Sofias!
Isabella Spanish and Italian variation of Elizabeth "pledged to God" Back when I was a preschool teacher (12 years ago) there were three Isabellas in my toddler class of less than 20 kids...and that's when Isabella was only #28 on the list!
Emma German "healer of the universe" My great-grandmother's name was Emma. If it wasn't mega-popular I'd probably consider using it.
Olivia Latin "olive tree" I love the name Olive! Not sure why Olivia doesn't have the same appeal for me.
Ava Latin "like a bird"
Emily Latin "industrious" Emily has been in the top 40 since I was a kid!
Abigail Hebrew "my father is joyful"
Madison English "son of the mighty warrior" It always feels like some of the more popular names are really new, but if you do some research you'll find out that they've been around forever. Madison is one of those names. At the turn of the century, it often appeared in the top 500 names for boys before fading into obscurity in the 1950s. Then in 1984, it was used as the name of the mermaid in the movie Splash, and broke into the top 10 for girls only 12 years later!
Mia Italian "mine" I've always thought Mia would make a sweet middle name.
Chloe Greek "young green shoot" We already have a niece named Chloe, and since we ditched favorites like Ellie and Elle because they were too close to Ella (another niece), we won't be stealing this one either. Sorry Chloe!
To see where your name, or one of your favorites, falls on the list of the most popular baby names, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/babynames/.