Out in the Open

Even Canada's top law students can feel they aren't good enough

Nick Papageorge opens up about impostor syndrome as he prepares for the bar exam

Nick Papageorge opens up about impostor syndrome as he prepares for the bar exam

Nick Papageorge (Courtesy of Nick Papageorge)

This story was originally published on June 15, 2018.

The University of Toronto's prestigious law school draws some of Canada's best and brightest students. So when Nick Papageorge applied, his hopes weren't high.

"I'm not somebody who would consider myself the best and the brightest," he told Out in the Open. "So I never thought that was a realistic option."

To his surprise, Papageorge was accepted. But that didn't assuage an impostor syndrome that would follow him through his three years at the school.

"Right off the bat when you get there, you meet people that are just significantly more accomplished than you at that moment," he said. "People who have done masters' and other degrees, people who had spent time in the working world already and had come back to school."

While in school, Papageorge obtained his first job in law through a connection at his mother's office. That only compounded his worries that he'd be unable to cut it as a lawyer when he needed to get by on his own merits.

"At some point, my luck is going to run out," he thought to himself.

Eventually, he landed an articling position all on his own, which came as a "relief." He finally felt capable of competing with his classmates. Impostor syndrome might never fully disappear, he thought, but it does fade over time.

Papageorge spoke to Out in the Open as he was preparing to take the bar exam. Even now, after all his progress, he acknowledged a nagging fear that he might finally be coming to a hurdle he can't clear.

"Those sentiments of self-doubt do still linger. There's always the next obstacle to overcome."

This story appears in the Out in the Open episode "Impostors".


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