Hello my name is

My name is…

I’ve shared this story before, but for those who don’t know, when I was younger it wasn’t a requirement to attend kindergarten. Because of that, my first classroom experience was first grade. I loved my teacher, I loved my school, I loved my entire first grade life. Well, most of it.

Two weeks into the school year I was sent to the principal’s office. Now you have to understand, I was a well behaved kid back then. Really, I was. For me to be in trouble was a big deal. My dad was a Drill Sergeant at that time in the military so I knew not to misbehave, and if I did misbehave…well, let’s just say it would be better for me to pack my bags and go live in the treehouse.

My dad was called to the school to discuss my behavior. I wasn’t in the meeting but I could hear their voices filter through the door and down the hall to where I was sitting. The teacher told my dad that I wasn’t paying attention in class, yet after he questioned her, he discovered that she was calling me by the name Penny. (Now keep in mind my name is Penelope and I had never heard the name Penny before.) The teacher chose to nickname me without even letting me know. So when she would call on me to do something, I wasn’t responding because she wasn’t calling me by my name…the only name I knew…Penelope.

I could hear the anger in my dad’s voice as he said, “My daughter’s name is Penelope and you will call her Penelope. If I wanted her called Penny, I would have named her Penny.”

My dad never let anyone nickname me. To this day people will still try shortening my name to Penny, and when they do I always respond letting them know that that’s not my name. I am Penelope. That’s just who I am.

There will be times when people will try to call you by a name that you don’t recognize. They may call you quitter, or lazy, or forgotten, or disabled. But those names—those labels—are not who you are. Don’t let anyone slap a “Hello my name is…” sticker on you with the wrong name written in the blank space. And just so you know, you aren’t Multiple Sclerosis either.

You are an amazing person living with a terrible disease. You are strong. You are fierce. You are able. You are greater than even you think you are. Take a deep breath, dry your tears and be YOU. I love the you that you are!

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero  

About the Author
About the Author
Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

14 replies
  1. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    Thank you Penelope. It strange we have a cat we call Peni so I don’t attribute that with you. I have been called a few names some which do not need to be aired here for moralistic reasons but friendly names that came from my work ethics and social life.
    I don’t mind this type of ‘banter’ but I do not like people spelling my name wrong. My name is Rodger not Roger as in the French spelling whereas I am from the germanic area so it has a “D” in it Also the meaning is related to the “D” being included as well. As you can see from my email address that is my Qyenya name I have used for all sorts of reasons.
    Any way I think you dad is right. He named you Penelope and that’s your name. Very important for us to remember we are not someone else even though they may think so.

  2. Doug Wineburner
    Doug Wineburner says:

    nice article kids in school picked on me with my last name and all I ignored them but none wanted to be my friend or anything . I also back then had my epilepsy/seizures and 1 year had 1 during an assembly in front of everyone while in bleachers. So that didn’t help. I got through school tried college worked few different jobs. Then finally got on at MENARDS was up to full time and all had 12 years in company. Then one day I went to work was working away then as walking carts in all sudden my legs gave out and went weak I fell in store. Then after going to Dr about it and he ran test found out I had both ms and Myasthenia Gravis disease together. Then here lost my job can’t drive can’t go anywhere without help so it gets very frustrating at times.

    • Rodger Ashton-Smith
      Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

      Well written Doug. I’m sorry to read that you have Myasthenia Graves as well. I know what it is to lose your driving ability. I used to drive for our local Community Watch group but had to stop as my right has given up.At least I am in a loving family and they do their best to help me

  3. Carla L Broadbent Rogers
    Carla L Broadbent Rogers says:

    Best way to start the day…….Reading the “Words of Penelope” Be well.

  4. Lynne Robinson
    Lynne Robinson says:

    Wow thanks this is true.. I love what you say an do for Awareness. and very often when I share I say Penny as your name. hmm . I will go search and revise that! my name being Lynne I really am not a fan being called Lynnie.. Thanks <3 for so many things you do!! #MSStronge you are!

  5. Jon
    Jon says:

    Yesterday I was having a terrible day. I felt tired, dizzy, and just did not want to go to sleep

    But I went swimming and had 1 of my best lessons yet. It just relaxs you and takes your mind off things

  6. Judy
    Judy says:

    That teacher of yours should have known to communicate with a child before they make that sort of change, so you knew what to expect! I taught for years and that action is unacceptable. I hope it improved.

    • Penelope Conway
      Penelope Conway says:

      I agree. After that year, most teachers would ask if I had a nickname. Sadly, most couldn’t pronounce my name. First day of roll call, it would be pen-E-lope…rhyming with envelope. :/

  7. Nicky barraclough
    Nicky barraclough says:

    I wasn’t feeling so strong or fierce last night and I let MS get the better of me and dissolved in a puddle of tears and the why me?
    I called out of work last night for today for the first time ever and I thought a lot when I couldn’t sleep last night.
    I re read a lot of your posts and I got myself out of bed at my usual time this morning read this and thought I would spend the day on me!
    Thank you

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