The biggest challenge with the word professional is that many people equate that with being good or skilled. Even if you have letters behind your name, or some sort of certification that you can hang on the wall we would not be able to verify that you are good. Certifications or degrees simply prove that you have accomplished some set of predefined goals. There are a lot of bad doctors in the world. You know what you call the person that finished last in their class in medical school right? You call them doctor. But if they finished last they might not be the person you want taking care of you.
Professional is simply a designation of getting financial compensation for what you are doing, whether you are good or bad at it. There are people that write computer software as a hobby and release it as open source software, and even in their day job don't work as a computer programmer. They do it for the love of it. And some of that open source software is as good as (and at times better) than the commercial software written by professionals.
This is not to say that the professional photographer does not strive for good art, or for quality. It is just that along with anything they want to do, they are also constrained by the desires of the customer. And some customers are more demanding than others. It is also true that there are some truly horrific professional photographers. People will purchase their work, but it does not make that work better.
When we realize that titles, or degrees, or certifications are not a solid indication of quality of work, we will realize that we need to judge the work of the individual and not the title etc. I have chosen the photographers I try to model my work after based on if I felt the work they produce is something that I would like to equal. There are many that when I look at their portfolios I find I have no desire to shoot like them. Sometimes it is because they really are not that good. Sometimes it is because they simply have a different vision and idea of what makes a beautiful photo.
So I would not say that I am a pro, or that I have come even close to arriving where I want to be with my photography. As a matter of fact I still struggle with self doubts about my craft. But I do know that the people around me love the work they see that I do. I suppose that I am hoping ultimately that instead of getting a moniker of professional that ultimately I would be considered an artisan and that my photography has somehow enhanced or added beauty to others lives. And I hope that you also can share great moments and great stories with your photography.