They felt like losers in their youth — but that's how these couples met later in life.

It was Valentine's Day 2006, and 32-year-old Neil Katcher was standing on stage reading poetry he'd written in high school.

This was part of "Mortified," a hilarious stage performance where adults could come together and share their most hilariously embarrassing and angst-filled moments from adolescence, usually in the form of diary entries, poetry, or chat transcripts.

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On that night, Neil was reading a selection of love letters that, as an awkward teenager, he'd been too afraid to send out of fear of rejection.


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You know. Stuff like this:

GIF from "Mortified Nation."

After the show, a woman named Christine came up and introduced herself to him. "She was wearing 2-inch heels and she’s already like an inch taller than me. So she was like towering over me and I had no idea she was flirting with me," he told Upworthy over email.

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The rest was history, and their first child turned 3 last year.

Neil, Christina, and their little guy, in 2013. GIF from "Mortified Nation."

"It’s kinda fun that this love letter I wrote as a kid — where I wore my heart on my sleeve — ended up getting the very thing I wanted — a girlfriend/wife — only 15 years later," he said.

Of course, that wasn't the goal when he started "Mortified" with his friend, David Nadelberg, back in 2002.

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They just thought it'd be funny to do a one-off night where people could read and share and laugh at their own delightfully awkward teenage memories, whether it's their funny chat transcripts with the girl next door or the erotic poetry they wrote about their sophomore math teacher before they had any real concept of what eroticism was or meant or something else as awesomely awful.

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They never expected the project to expand into podcasts, books, documentary films, and a television series, with live-performance chapters spanning three continents. And they certainly never thought so many people would find love along the way.

Founder David Nadelberg. GIF from "Mortified Nation."

The first time that Sara Faith Alterman read at "Mortified," she looked into the audience and saw a woman from her high school staring back.

Sara was already exposing herself by sharing tumultuous stories and poems about her on-again-off-again high school sweetheart.

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But seeing someone who actually (kind of) knew the person that she was back then? That made the whole thing even harder.

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"She hadn’t been the nicest kid, so exposing my teen musings and insecurities in front of her felt really terrible," Sara said.

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One year later, she returned to the "Mortified" stage. And this time, she made a passing joke about seeing someone in the audience that was actually present for the teenage trauma she was talking about.

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A man named Sam used the same angle when he approached her after the show. "Hey, we went to high school together!" he said. 

Sara in high school. Photo used with permission.

As Sara remembers it:

"I thought he was just joking to hit on me. I didn’t mind, because he was really cute. But he was serious. And it took me a minute to recognize him because we only knew each other through peripheral social media connections. I’d been a year ahead of him in school, and we’d run in completely different circles: I was in jazz choir and the drama club, he loved camping and skiing. 

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I fell in love with him immediately."

That was nearly 10 years ago. Today, they're married and live in the Bay Area — though Sara still produces the Boston and New England chapters of "Mortified," back where she grew up. 

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"My husband thinks I’m crazy for remaining affected by high school. I think he’s a robot," she said. "And our baby is basically a crazy robot, so that makes sense." 

Sara and Sam today. Photo used with permission.

Anne Jensen-Smith and her husband, Adam, were both already entangled in the "Mortified" world when sparks began to fly between them.

Anne had been co-producing the Los Angeles chapter's live performances, alongside co-founders Dave and Neil. At one point, they decided to bring in a house band to accompany performances — and Adam just so happened to be the leader of the band.

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That's what got them talking. The first time they went out alone together was after a "Mortified" performance — on Valentine's Day. "Adam and I talked all night long about our upbringings, our high school experiences, most embarrassing moments after that 'Mortified' show nine years ago," she told Upworthy.

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"Now, nine years, one marriage, two kids, two dogs, and one major move (to Texas) later, we decided to open a 'Mortified' in Dallas where, once again, I am the producer and he is the band leader."

Anne in middle school, on the left, and today with her husband, Adam. Photo used with permission.

"The charm of 'Mortified,' and why I think it brings so many couples together, is that it immediately disarms you," Anne said.

"[It] makes it cool, funny, and most importantly it makes you feel OK to talk about that most vulnerable time in your life," she added. "One doesn't often open up like that on a first date, or even a fifth or tenth date, but watching 'Mortified' can really inspire someone to share the tenderness of one's adolescence."

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Sara agrees. "'Mortified' gives people a platform to lay their deep-seated dreams, insecurities, and secrets all out on the table. It’s exhilarating. It’s cathartic."

But the most important lesson to take away from "Mortified"? It's that despite our terrible teenage memories, we ended up OK after all.

As a performer in the "Mortified Nation" documentary put it:

"Having the audience with me, kind of cheering me on, is a remarkable thing. Because I didn't have that when I was teenager. I didn't have anybody saying 'aw' when I was getting picked on. That's a really powerful shift."

It is a powerful thing to reclaim your past humiliations, when you were young and naive and worried about everything. Imagine how your high school self would have felt if you had known that it would all turn out OK — or even better — and that your heinous high school poems about your sexy sophomore math teacher could lead you into the arms of the one you'd spend your life with.

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For some people, that could make the difference between life and death.

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Maybe if I'd known where I'd end up today, I wouldn't have felt so tortured back then. But then I probably wouldn't be where I am — which is writing this story before I go on stage at "Mortified" to sing a song I wrote more than half my life ago.

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The refrain? "Somehow it'll all turn out right."

Me at "Mortified," probably singing "@#$% You, Hotchkiss Lane" or "Love Song in the Key of Amateur" or some other incredibly angsty adolescent anthem that I penned in my punk rock youth. Clearly I haven't changed that much.

True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

via Wikimedia Commons and Goalsetter

America's ethnic wealth gap is a multi-faceted problem that would take dramatic action, on multiple fronts, to overcome. One of the ways to help communities improve their economic well-being is through financial literacy.

Investopedia says there are five primary sources of financial education—families, high school, college, employers, and the military — and that education and household income are two of the biggest factors in predicting whether someone has a high level of financial literacy.

New Orleans Saints safety, two-time Super Bowl Champion, and social justice activist Malcolm Jenkins and The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation hope to help bridge the wealth gap by teaching students about investing at a young age.

Keep Reading Show less
True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.