Mortified Nation: Your Old Diary Entries Uncovered

In the late 90’s, Dave Nadelberg uncovered a love letter he’d written as a heartsick teen. Both amused and horrified, he sent it to a few friends. They loved it and were eager to share their own angsty writing from their childhoods. He realized people’s humiliating screeds could be both cathartic and hilarious to read as an adult. About a decade later in 2002, Nadelberg started to gather hundreds of diary entries, letters, photos, and other remnants from people’s awkward years. That project morphed into two books, a stage show in multiple cities, a TV series, and this year, a feature-length documentary: “Mortified Nation.”

Dave Nadelberg joined “Open Source” to discuss the movie and talk about why puberty is so emotionally fraught.

“I think you wind up learning how to hate yourself really well,” Nadelberg said.

But that doesn’t necessarily take the fun away from revisiting old photos.

“You’re able to look back and realize that all these things you thought would kill you, like getting rejected at prom, won’t actually kill you,” he said.

When we worked on this story, we found out almost everyone on the Open Source staff kept a journal at some point in their lives. Jessica Roy, Camille Santochi, Katie Ryan, Joe Tello, and Peter Johansen each shared an embarrassing gem from their youth with the Open Source audience.