I have trouble even saying the phrase, "I am a photographer." To me, a photographer is someone with advanced skills, years of quality work, and can make money with a camera. When someone in the general public says, that's a good photo, I'm skeptical of the appreciation. People outside of the photography community seem to have a low bar as to what is good work. Take a shot of the mountains in the fall, make sure it's bright, crank up the saturation in post to make the leaves pop and wallah, everyone loves it. But is that photo really that good?
I'm sure all artist, no mater what their craft, have self doubt. I unfortunately have tons of it as someone who suffers with anxiety and depression. I look at my work and I always focus on the mistakes. It pains me to look at a photo and say I got it right. The struggle with this moves beyond just looking at my work. As I get down on myself, I start to wonder why I should continue shooting. I'll drag my camera out with me to purposely go somewhere and shoot, only to either see nothing inspiring or to have anxiety wreck my plans. I doubt people really understand how hard it is to want to do something you love, have the means to do it, and have your mind betray you.
People say to me sometimes that I should have a show or enter a contest but I don't believe I could bear the rejection or disappointment. When you create, I believe you do it not only for yourself, but in some small way you want to be acknowledged and appreciated by your peers. Sure it would be nice to make money from your passion but maybe being a photographer is more about personal expression, feeling appreciated by your contemporaries and being part of the community.