Crafting Confidence from Self Doubt
We at Prep U are going to try something new. When it comes to our products, we are not just about making products you love, we are also about providing our customers with knowledge through our thoughtful and sometimes, humorous content. Most of our write-ups are about very specific topics related to maintaining good hygiene and it’s relative importance in the lives of young men. However, what about hearing stories from others that are inspiring, relatable or perhaps just interesting? Stories that aren’t just about teen guys, but stories about any guy that has a story to tell on how they grew up, evolved, had setbacks and big wins. We want to share it all, because every story has something for everyone and we are happy to share our first one about singer/songwriter/artist/entrepreneur, Peter Purcell.
Peter’s story is relatable to everyone. Confidence and self-assurance are essential elements of success and of course, success is measured in different ways. Goal attainment, personal fulfillment, wealth or perhaps fear conquering; there are threads of all this in our discussion with Peter so read on and let us know what you think.
So Peter, tell us a bit about yourself. Please include your social security number and mother’s maiden name….just kidding.
I am a 27-year-old singer-songwriter and backcountry snowboarder. Hailing from the Thousand Islands region of the Saint Lawrence River, I grew up constantly surrounded by nature, which gave me perspective on the human experience and inspired me to connect with people through music. I currently live in Lake Tahoe, California, where I write music and climb mountains in the Sierra Nevada.
I told everyone at the outset that you are a singer/songwriter. What kind of music to write? What do you think it is about you that makes you good at songwriting?
I am known for my songwriting – specifically, folk-infused pop songs. I’d like to think I am an old head on young shoulders and that I am a deeply honest songwriter chasing “give me chills” moments. I think I am a very curious person and that’s what pushes me to make sense of my emotions and relationships through songwriting. One day when I was a kid, I was lying on my bed listening to John Lennon and I had this epiphany moment where I thought to myself, “he just described exactly how I feel, and gave me the words to make sense of it. I want to give that same gift to people.” Soon after that, I picked up my dad’s old guitar and learned a few chords. I began humming melodies and writing lyrics. Before long, this experimentation turned into a daily songwriting habit that has stuck with me to this day. Above all else, I want people to feel connected to the messages in my songs. The production is important, but the message is the most important thing. I really want to speak to the generation of people I’m growing up with.
Self-doubt is a big inhibitor of success and progression.
That’s intense. Forgive the music reference, but you seem to be very in tune with yourself. Do you think you have a trait or characteristic that has helped you or hindered you along your way?
Oh yes. Definitely. The trait that has most hindered me is probably either perfectionism or insecurity about my music. I always worry about what other people will think. However, I worry most about what I’ll think about my music in the future. I will only release a song if I think I will still be proud of it in 10 years. This holds me back from releasing more music more frequently and definitely slows me down.
I can see that being a perfectionist can have its drawbacks. For instance, when you miss the mark on something I imagine the self-doubt that weighs on you is immense. Have you ever encountered self-doubt or doubt from others? If so, how have you overcome it or proven the doubters wrong?
Self-doubt is a big inhibitor of success and progression. Music is like the rest of life in that if you are free of worry about what others may think, you will be freer to create and just be yourself. And of course, everything you do won’t be perfect, but you will do much more and probably enjoy the process a lot more. I think self-doubt is natural and everyone experiences it from time to time. I think you overcome it by knowing that it will pass and be replaced by confidence at some point. And then that confidence will cycle back into self-doubt once again. Emotions are cyclical in that way. I have been through the rollercoaster so many times that when I experience self-doubt I just remember that I’ll feel more confident at some point soon, so I try not to let it bother me too much. That being said, self-doubt can be crippling. When that happens, I just ride it out.
When I experience doubt from others, it’s a totally different story. That motivates me to prove them wrong. I think I am naturally defiant so whenever I hear “no,” I think “yes.” This has not always led to the best decision making but it's great for dealing with doubt from others.
I love that message. Although you don’t need to take heat from haters, sometimes it’s healthy to share our trials and wins with some trusted few. Who is your support system—the person or people you go to when you need advice, encouragement or feedback?
When I need advice or encouragement, I lean on my friends. When it comes to creative outlets and following your passions, family can be too overbearing and practical to be much help. Friends are always there to tell me to keep going. They are good at recognizing that all I want is encouragement and not a lecture, which family can be quick to dole out at the wrong time.
What is one piece of advice you would’ve given to your younger self or to someone younger than you now?
One piece of advice I would give my younger self is to relentlessly follow your wildest dreams, fantasies, and impulses (at least to a certain extent). I would say this because the more you do, the more you grow, and growth is how you become the best version of yourself. Plus, you make so many more memories that way and you find who you are much faster. Additionally, life goes by fast and the older you get, the less time you have for yourself. So I’d say do everything you can and make the most of every moment. Move to Australia, fall in love, take spur of the moment trips, and generally say yes to all opportunities around you.
That's a valuable perspective, Peter. Looking ahead, what If you could manifest your future? What would it look like?
If I were to manifest my future, I would be successful at three things: Being an adventurer, an entrepreneur, and an artist. I would climb mountains and snowboard all over the world, be a founder of several businesses, and have a stable career as a singer-songwriter. If I could be financially stable while pursuing the things I love, I think I would be extremely happy.
As for my music, I just released my debut single, Where I Belong. It’s a love song written for those who really know when they’ve found their person. It's currently available everywhere.
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