I’m really starting to lose my confidence in my cosplay, and I feel like everyone’s doing so much better than me and I just can’t keep up, and I don’t know how to restore my self esteem.
I feel you on this! Cosplay as a whole has visibly jumped up a few notches in terms of skill level and quality from when I started (2004) and it can feel like you are getting left behind.
These are a couple things I keep in mind to not get overwhelmed:
1) The number one metric to judge your abilities is your personal growth. From one costume to the next, did you improve and learn? If you are always getting a better you are doing a great job. If you aren’t improving, ask yourself why and work on it.
2) The community is large and varied. Odds are someone is going to be better than you, and someone else is going to be worse than you.
There are absolutely professionals who cosplay. Professional cosplayers, propmakers, costume designers, fashion designers and people who have backgrounds or experience that put them on that professional level. There are many substantial reasons you might not be at that level of quality including budget, support, experience and time.
You should look to these people as inspiration and motivation: you can certainly work toward getting there but don’t think your own achievements are worthless because you aren’t there, yet. Everyone will have their own journey. If you think you should be