I've entered just a few contests until now, because it's so hard to get over the rejection letter. But you lick your wounds and try again. I found a contest by the Center for Photographic Arts in Carmel entitled "In Celebration of Light" and I couldn't resist. And then I was so surprised to find I'd won first place. I read the email through two or three times.
The Center for Photographic Arts evolved from Friends of Photography, the historically important group of West Coast photographers that included Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham. And the juror was Richard Gadd, director of the Weston Gallery. So I couldn't have won a contest that meant more to me.