Marie Watts is invisibleImagine my surprise when I learned that I am invisible; I do not exist according to my alma mater, the University of Texas.  Last week I began researching my new historical novel and came across an article in JSTOR to read. Supposedly, because I am a Texas Ex member, I have access to their library and JSTOR. All I needed was my UT EID (An identification number assigned to all students.) During my time at UT, Social Security numbers were used for identification but, as the years passed, the university changed to a different numbering system.  

Following the directions, I called the IT department but found they only had EIDS from 1975 to present.  On to the registrar’s office, who told me I didn’t exist. While they promised to research, I was referred to admissions for another search. The gentleman annoyed me by asking why I wanted my EID. None of his business.  When he confirmed my invisibility, I lost it. Why does UT call me all the time wanting money if I don’t exist? I asked.

Frustrated, I sent a copy of my transcript and Texas Exes lifetime membership card to the registrar.  To date, I remain invisible. I’ll follow up though, with a picture of my diploma.  Honestly, I had to look at all these documents several times to assure that graduating wasn’t something I just dreamed up.

Then, to top it off, I took my laptop to the library that day and was rejected by facial recognition. I am invisible again.

Have you ever felt invisible or ignored by other people around you?

In the past several years while involved in volunteer groups, I’ve experienced this phenomenon based on prejudice and bias.  The groups ignored my contributions, leaving me angry and hurt.

Natasha Thapar-Olmos, PhD, Program Director of at OnlinePsychology@Pepperdine, points out that it is never your responsibility to educate someone who is hateful or discriminatory toward you. First, you must be at peace with yourself and build resilience against prejudice:

  • Face reality head-on. Denial can be powerful. Name and acknowledge your experiences, whether it is to a family member, friend, or counselor.
  • Make meaning out of experiences. How can we learn from these experiences? How can they inform us? “I think a lot of people find meaning in growing from pain by enriching others,” Thapar-Olmos said.
  • Control what you can. You may not be able to change other people, but what do you have control over? How can you structure your interactions? What are some healthy outlets you can use? Exercise agency whenever possible.

Eventually, I allowed myself to work through my negative emotions and adapt the attitude that it’s their loss.  I’ll take my skills and talents to organizations that appreciate them.

UT is another matter.  I will make The University acknowledge me if it’s the last thing I do on this earth.

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