How To Handle Being Ghosted At Work
A sad reality of working in creative fields (especially the entertainment industry) is that you’ll get ghosted sometimes. After spending time and effort writing your pitch, sending out your manuscript or editing your reel, you anxiously await a response. Instead of getting a rejection email, letter or phone call you hear nothing. It sucks. Even if this wasn’t your dream job - but even more so if it was - It's humiliating, heartbreaking and disrespectful to not get a response on something you've put blood, sweat, and tears into.
Faced with deafening silence, at some point you must accept that the project isn’t going to happen or you didn’t get the role or the development deal is dead or whatever the terrible outcome is.
It is tempting to burn things down. Or completely shut down. But being ghosted is a true test of your endurance as an artist. In order to last as an artist, you must be able to recover, grieve, and learn from the experience and in order to keep going. This may take time and emotional effort.
First, accept the reality of the end. Until you admit it, you won’t be able to move on and start something new. It feels a lot like being rejected by a lover, but for some people even worse, because it’s their creative self being rejected.
It is hard to face this painful truth, especially when it’s not OFFICIALLY confirmed. It feels unfair. Who wants to give up hope for something they’ve worked so hard for?
If you're obsessively email checking, stop. Check your email once or twice a day.
If you’re stalking people’s Instagram and assessing that they aren’t actually “THAT” busy and could call you back, you have to stop. Take a few days off social media.
If you’re obsessively interpreting everyone else’s professional good fortune as a sign that your chance has been taken, it’s time to begin the processing of mourning your project and shift your focus away from other people. Take a break from reading websites, blogs, trade publications and having conversations with people who focus on that.
FEEL THE TERRIBLE FEELINGS:
Hope was driving you nuts and now you've realistically assessed it’s over. It's painful. But in order to move forward, you've got to feel these feelings. Acknowledge all the rage, sorrow, and humiliation that come with acceptance.
New losses usually open up old losses, especially unresolved losses. All your old wounds, rejections and failures since childhood might be the only thing that feels true. If you’re someone whose never worked through other failures, rejections or losses, this part of recovering from a professional rejection may be particularly challenging.
OPEN UP AND BE VULNERABLE ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL
It might feel embarrassing to talk to people about these feelings and experiences, but talking about how you feel will help. Seek trusted friends, family or even a therapist to help you process what you’re feeling.
TAKE A BREAK
You may feel internal and external pressure to immediately move to the next project. If you’re not ready, respect that instead of beating yourself over the head and forcing something your not ready for. Take a break. Give yourself as much time as you need to recover, a week a month, whatever. If you can, go to Sedona, Arizona and find a healing Vortex. Or, take a hike in the Santa Monica mountains. If you have kids, take them to the Natural History Museum. Get a massage. Go to a Yoga Class. Whatever works for you.
So here’s what tricky- you’ve got to figure out how to take a break WITHOUT getting stuck in depression, anxiety, or an angry dark place. If you feel yourself shutting down and slipping into the land of infinite scrolling, Video Games, Netflix binging, drinking, obsessive anger/revenge fantasy- its time to consider looking for outside help to help to bridge you through this time. Which is fine and doesn’t make you weak or pathetic, just a person who has a significant loss and needs help making sense out of it. There’s no need to be a tortured artist.
Help could look like finding a good therapist, going to AA meetings, being vulnerable and opening up to a trusted friend about what you’re going through, or taking a class or seminar that seems like it would help you feel inspired and connected.
Some people heal by diving head first into new projects. If you can use the energy from the experience of rejection as motivation that’s fantastic, but it’s still important to check in with and acknowledge your feelings those feelings can catch up with you someday. If this is what works for you, by all means, do it, but I encourage you to at least take a little bit of time to acknowledge your feelings and check-in with yourself.
GET BACK ON THE HORSE
Being ghosted is a true test of your endurance as an artist. If you keep putting yourself and your work out there, it’s going to happen over and over again. So, get back to it. You’ve grieved, you’ve gone on your soul quest, you’ve acknowledged how much it sucks. Time to start the process all over again. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
None of this has to happen in a perfect sequence and some days you’l need tol do some of these, a few of these or all of these things. Some days will feel better then others. It’s normal. If, after awhile you’re having trouble moving forward, and really stuck or suffering I encourage you to seek extra help and support from friends, family, mentors, or a therapist.
If you’ve been ghosted professionally and are feeling like you could use the help of a therapist to make sense of it, feel free to reach out.