Does the fact of having photographic distinctions after your name make you a better photographer?
Definitely not, it means that you have satisfied a group of people that you have achieved a certain level of achievement. You may or may not reach that level of achievement again at a later date.
In any competitive endeavour it could be said that you are as good as your last result. It is practically impossible to consistently get a perfect score time after time, year after year.
As photography is subjective, judges will have different opinions of an image, and -even where an image is being judged against the same images (e.g. in a circuit where there may be several salons being judged at the same time, all with exactly the same entries) - the results will be different, sometimes wildly different.
Even those with the highest distinctions can produce images which the judges will give a low mark to because of faults which the authors of the images either do not notice or think are very minor distractions in an otherwise beautiful masterpiece.
Why bother trying to get these distinctions then?
Because they are there. It is not the getting the distinction that is important, it is the striving to get it.
At least, that is the case for me.
Why bother to enter competitions?
Everyone can be a legend in their own mindset. Feedback is the only way to get an objective view of the truth. To improve you have to keep trying to polsh your art – as Adolf Anderssen said in 1856 “It is impossible to keep one's excellence in a glass case, like a jewel, and take it out whenever it is required.”