Where I need to relax a little bit is probably, as has been pointed out, in learning to accept where I'm currently at, and just enjoy making the prints.
My whole quest has been about getting away from things surrounding equipment, which got me absolutely nowhere. Same thing about films and developers, and papers and developers. The only piece of equipment that I find truly important, besides just being reliable and functioning well, is the enlarger and its lens. After purchasing a great enlarger, and dropping all the equipment silver bullet strides, I have come to realize that technique is really the only thing that matters. How to engage with the subject matter while shooting (whether it be landscape or people), how to realize the importance of matching negatives to our paper of choice AND mastering how to actually do that, and finally becoming a better printer - now that has helped to carry my work forwards in a way that has been extremely satisfying, and it's real because it's my own brain and my own hands that are functioning better - with the same materials. To me that was utterly profound.
The whole thought process came full circle when I realized why the amazing printers above are my heroes - it's because they do not possess the ability to change any of the materials that the images are photographed with. They receive(d) negatives from customers that are/were a certain way - and they just HAVE to deal with that. The magic in those prints is obviously not the camera, the film, or the film developer - it is the eye of the photographer and what they recorded, combined with their own skills as printers. The materials could be anything between heaven and earth, yet they were hired to do something special with it. Ding! Ding! Ding! Lightbulb moment. This proved to me that the road to improving my print does not lie in my choice of film or lens, but my knowledge of HOW to use them.
(Edit: I will correct myself here, because I know that Carnie insists on processing the film he prints himself, for reasons of quality of output, which is probably making his life a lot easier).