Imposter Phenomenon – Mentorship

Imposter Phenomenon – Mentorship

Even as I write this, I am thinking, “what right do I have to be writing about imposter phenomenon? I’m not an expert.”

Imposter phenomenon is the feeling of being a fraud accompanied by the fear of others finding out or the belief that the things you have accomplished are due to luck.

So why do I feel that I can write a blog about imposter syndrome? I have experienced it and that experience is what makes me qualified to share it with others.

As a leader I have found myself not sharing my opinions with the group because I thought there was someone else present who was more capable. I’ve not pursued opportunities because I didn’t think that I was skilled enough.

You can Google imposter phenomenon and come up with long lists of suggestions for overcoming imposter phenomenon.  I don’t know that anyone completely “overcomes” imposter phenomenon, I think it is the nature of the experience that it creeps up again and again. Although I do believe that it is similar to stage fright in the sense that there are strategies that can make it less debilitating.

I have two strategies for you to consider when trying to mitigate your feelings imposter phenomenon:

  1. Get a mentor.
    • You are most likely your harshest critic, having a source of support such as a mentor who can listen and help you see a more objective bigger picture can mitigate some of the feelings of fraud.
    • Your mentor may have had their own experience with imposter phenomenon, learn the strategies he or she has tried and see if they work for you.
    • Mentors are a great source of support and that support can increase your confidence in many areas.
  2. Be a mentor.
    • You are qualified to be a mentor. The thing that qualifies a mentor is that they have experience in something that they want to share with others – hence you are qualified to be a mentor.
    • Sharing your experiences and successes with others can increase your confidence in your own abilities. Being a mentor gives you the space to reflect on your experiences, you may realize that you are indeed more qualified than you are giving yourself credit for.
    • Supporting someone else can help change your mindset. When supporting someone else you tend to see more possibilities and talk more positively, this can lead to your thinking about your own experiences more positively.

If you are looking for a mentor, check out the Mentorship Database for a listing of formal programs at U of T. If you are looking to be a peer mentor, check out the Peer Mentorship Opportunities page (more listings will be posted in January). Or for more information on mentorship at U of T contact

WRITTEN BY: Erin Clifford – Student Life Coordinator, Mentorship Programs, Student and Campus Community Development

This article has 1 comment

  1. Thanks for writing and sharing the post, Erin! I experience Imposter Phenomenon very often as I am almost always surrounded by people who I feel are MUCH more qualified, and conversations with mentors and mentees have been helpful to make me realize I am where I am because I do have experiences that are worth sharing!

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