When I was a teenager I loved to write. I wasn’t told I could not write; which they probably should have done because my stuff was crap when I was 14. I could never get the knack of journaling, but I was writing full-length novels (though after pulling the notebooks out of the purgatory they should return, they were just barely novellas) of Disney fan-fic stories that included my friends and I. They were bad. If compared to Tina Belcher’s friend fic, they would be buried alive and refuse to come back as a zombie for her stories.
So when hearing a story about a middle-schooler’s attempt at the best homoerotic Harry Potter slash fic that turned horribly wrong, I understood completely. She was extremely mocked on the fan-fic websites, but never gave up on her writing dream, and became a professional writer as a result.
This tale is one of many in a new Netflix series based on the storytelling podcast, The Mortified Guide. At all live Mortified shows, people bring their childhood diaries and other writings and read them in front of an audience without embellishment. Seeing how we acted and what we thought when we were younger is a perfect way to look at ourselves as adults. What drove us to be who we are today? If you had never seen another person like you on a soap opera, would you have ever come out to your parents? How did you not notice your boyfriend was really into your twin sister? Looking back, did all those random practical jokes your dad would play on you and your sister scar you for life? At least 2 of these examples can be seen on the show (Hint: I wasn’t scarred, but that doesn’t stop people from looking at me weird when I talk about that).
The great thing about the series, podcast, and books can be found directly in its motto: We’re freaks, we’re fragile, but we all survived. Being a teenager is hard for everybody. For some it’s worse. But looking at these stories helps us get over that hardship and see how similar everybody is. We may not look the same, or make the same amount of money, but at some point in our lives we dealt with the same problems. It may not be Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but it means so much more.
Having fought my anxiety one night a month to tell stories at Full Circle Storytelling, I have told stories similar to the people on this show, minus the original documentation, and can relate to these presenters. It’s difficult to stand up in front of a club and release your truths. There are things you don’t want people to know. For my stories I can leave pieces out. For the Mortified presenters, it’s all in the writing. They’re reliving these stories, for good and bad. Yet, after making it through, the world becomes brighter.
That’s why I watched The Mortified Guide and the documentary Mortified Nation—to feel a bit brighter. So do yourself a favor and find both of these on Netflix.