When Rejection Stings

A few weeks ago I submitted to an online organization to be considered for their “pro” status.  I did it on a complete whim of courage, confidence and crazy.  I’ve been waiting super patiently (definitely not) to hear back, and this morning I finally got the email.

“Dear Erin, Unfortunately we are declining your submission at this time…”

Now, you have to know that when I told my closest friends about submitting, I said that I would be excited to hear back no matter what the response was, because even if it was a “no,” their detailed point system would give me such great direction for improving my photography moving forward!  I mean, it was just a complete win-win situation, right?!

That’s funny that I said that.

Sometimes we need to just stop kidding ourselves with how mature and self-confident we are.  Sometimes we need to admit that we just want the actual win.  Although I am thankful to know the areas I need to continue refining and growing in, I really just wanted to not be declined, you know?

So I laid in bed and felt sorta sad for myself for a bit.  And then I started thinking, “What would Brené Brown say to me right now?”  Side note: if you don’t know who Brené is you need to forget all about this post and google her immediately and buy “Daring Greatly,” (which you can do here) or any of her other books.  Just sayin…DSC_8833

What I am actually excited about is that it only took a few minutes for me to get my head back together.  Truly the point system is helpful, and I am excited to continue growing and learning and improving.  But if you are anything like me, rejection like this can truly take a toll.  And sometimes our heads don’t get back together for hours, or days, or even weeks.  When rejection comes that really stings, it can sidetrack us for altogether way too long.

So I want to share a few thoughts on how to protect ourselves from that possibility.  Here are three responses that can protect our hearts and minds when we face the inevitable reality of rejection or failure.  I hope they encourage you today, although honestly I hope you find no need to use them…

3. Pull out your stones

As much as I would like to finish that title with “and throw them at anyone who has ever rejected you,” that is not where I am going with this.  Sorry.

God once told His people to gather stones from under the waters He parted and to set them up as memorial stones, so that generations to come would remember how He rescued them.  We all need stones of remembrance to keep these things at the forefront of our minds, because we tend to forget the good and memorialize the bad, right?!

Well we don’t just need stones to remind us about who God is and what He has done.  We also need stones that remind us of who we are. Not who we think we are, because frankly we are pretty mean to ourselves… We need stones that remind us of the good we have actually done, and the joy and blessing we have truly brought.

For me, those are the emails I receive from clients after they have seen their images.  Those emails are my stones. When I feel discouraged or a little beat up, all I need to do it reread those emails and I am reminded that although I am nowhere near perfect, I have somehow managed to be a blessing, and to give a gift.  That’s enough.  In fact, that’s the whole reason I’m doing any of this in the first place.

So what are your stones?  What do you need to pull out in moments of discouragement to remind yourself of the good?  Don’t ever let a touch of rejection make you forget about all of the giant stones of blessing…DSC_8880

2. Lay down your sword

One of Brené’s key points is that we tend to fall for the lie that there isn’t enough of what we need (success, joy, community, fabulousness, fill in whatever it is you are looking for), and that because of this we live with a bit of a “battle” mentality.  We fight each other for what we think is limited.

I think that’s why we’re so quick to put down other people’s work, or their parenting styles, or their house keeping habits…  If there is a limited supply of talent and success, then we had better start taking out the competition so we can be counted among the lucky few.

That’s a natural instinct within all of us, and when we are feeling the sting of rejection, it tends to be magnified, doesn’t it?

The beauty of it all is that there is more than enough success and joy and hope and purpose for everyone.  We can lay down our swords and rest.  We don’t need to fight for what we are looking for.  We may have to work for it, yes, but we don’t have to fight for it.

So when you find yourself feeling rejected, do everything possible to avoid cutting others down – out loud or in your head.  It doesn’t really make you feel better, and it certainly isn’t going to get you any closer to the things you seek.

1. Pick up your camera

I have a photo shoot this afternoon, and during my 10 minute sulk fest in bed this morning I decided I probably just shouldn’t go.  That’s kind of dramatic, I know.  But, I mean, I was one entire whole point away from being considered a “pro” by some photographers I’ve never met.  I should really probably just quit right now.  And I most certainly should never apply to that pro thingy ever again.

I do this.

Do you not do this?

I do this.  I not only let the negative thoughts roll around in my head, I let them grow like a snowball until they have become ridiculously large and soul-defining.  My instinctive reaction is to hide.  I want to tuck my camera back into its bag, stick my tail between my legs, and climb under the coffee table.

Rejection is embarrassing, and some of us go to great lengths to never be embarrassed.  So when faced with potential rejection, we just quit.

I started piano lessons when I was 4, and I played all through college, graduating with a degree in Music Education.  I didn’t start out as a music major, though.  I told myself it was because I was rebelling from what everyone thought I should do.  In reality, I was so scared that I wouldn’t pass the audition that I decided I’d rather not risk the possible rejection.

I don’t think this is just me.  I think the common response to these situations is to hide out.  But that is one of the biggest mistakes we could ever make, because when we hide out we also miss out on some of the greatest blessings that might be headed our way if we just were willing to risk it!!


You guys, we have got to learn to be brave.  Yes, sometimes we’ll be rejected.  Yes, it will be discouraging.  But you never know when that day will come that the email reads “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted!” and if we quit before we ever get there, well, what fun is that?!?!

So I’ve decided to go ahead and go to my photo shoot this afternoon (I know, impressive and brave, right?!).  I’m going to keep showing up.  Keep doing what I do, all while learning and growing and getting better.  One day maybe I’ll even apply to be a “pro” again (not any time soon…  I’m not that brave yet).

But I’m pulling out my stones, laying down my sword, and picking up my camera.  My heart is content, and today is going to be a fabulous day.  Because I decided so.

Lots of love, my friends!!  And thanks for reading.


ps. the sweet couple you see sprinkled through this post are throwing stones at me left and right… the good kind, that fill your soul and help you remember…  so a huge thank you to you both!!

pps. if you’d like to stay connected, you can subscribe to the blog on the right side of the post, or find me on Instagram or Facebook!!



  1. by Diana on November 4, 2015  8:57 am Reply

    Yes! I love your call to bravery and not hiding out. Keep fighting and creating and honoring God through it all! :)

  2. by courtney on November 4, 2015  9:16 am Reply

    Being rejected really is hard, even when we are telling ourselves we don't care! Thank you for sharing this insight!

  3. by Kallie on November 4, 2015  9:31 am Reply


    How brave and vulnerable. You speak truth straight to my heart. I've been convincing myself to take what seem like risky steps towards my dreams and know I will face rejection. I also just finished both of Brene's latest books. I'll take these little nuggets of wisdom for the day that I'm sure will come soon when I am disappointed. One more way to go on the submission I've not been brave enough to submit any of my photography for publication!

  4. by Kellee on November 4, 2015  12:27 pm Reply

    Wow Erin, first let me say I'm pretty surprised you received a rejection of any kind. But then again, if you didn't receive it, you would not have blogged this incredible message that I can take at least four great pointers from! God has a way of using others to shine light into our situations and He has used you today my friend. Keep shooting, you have an eye for art my friend. Keep submitting, eventually you WILL win. Keep writing, God uses you!

  5. by Debbie Durham on November 4, 2015  4:22 pm Reply

    You rock Erin.. and you are a Pro in my eyes! **Hugs** ... Like I have always told you I feel SO blessed that God crossed our paths!!

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