Those of us old-school people prefer not to see the terms "hacker" or "cracker" misused. Or used at all, nowadays. A hacker, in old-school parlance, means a person adept at hacking-away at technical problems until they vanish. Usually someone demonstrably well-experienced at doing so. What they do is ethical, though sometimes borderline.
You don't appear to fill that category yet (but keep going!)
A "cracker" on the other hand, is someone who has crossed the line into unethical territory. They use "black hat" methodology and tools, care nothing about the rights of others, and do so for money or pseudo-fame. They are also called Black Hat hackers, but they are "crackers" and despised within ethical Linux communities.
Either term is misused continuously. I say that candidly.
"We be hackers not crackers, argh!"
EDIT: If you took apart your toys, put them back together and had leftover parts--but they ran better--then you have the makings of a Hacker