I was a fundraiser. I was a database analyst. I’m telling you all this so you can hold me accountable. Because I keep thinking solicitation strategies and database configurations are the only card of value I hold.

They aren’t. I think I’m ready to say it. That’s not all I have to offer. 

Tasslyn Magnusson, post WHO AM II think I’m a poet. I think I’m a writer.

But I was a really good fundraiser. I could whip out a development solicitation plan in a moment. I always met my organizational goals. In fact, at one place in the midst of organizational chaos and scary change, I got 100% of employees to donate to the annual fund. Do you know why? Because I can build relationships and create trust. Then I turned around and used that gift those employees gave me and got several major gifts. 

(And the whole data part of it, great at that too).

I believe in people and I’m passionate and emotionally invested in my work. 

A therapist recently told me that I was hard-wired for high emotions. I have a lot of trouble understanding that. It’s not the way I see myself. But there’s a lot of evidence that she’s 100% correct.

Here’s the latest. Termination.

I’ve been terminated from a volunteer position – in fundraising adjacent work. Actually, as a database manager. The organization doesn’t matter. Just that I’ve been terminated. 

Before they said terminated, I realize I was already deep in the midst of a panic attack. See, these experiences have become a trigger for me. 

I can’t tell you how many times I told this organization, I’ve got 20 plus years of experience in databases and fundraising. That should’ve been a sign. I was standing there, waving my experience in a desperate attempt to make myself heard by people who were never going to hear me or tell me they heard me. 

We’re going to terminate you. 

I already couldn’t breathe. Heart racing. Tears coming.

I couldn’t even look at the zoom screen. I was told I was unprofessional. I wrote disrespectful emails. That I shouldn’t tell people who were in charge they were making mistakes. Even if I believed they were. 

Terminate. No wonder I hate zoom calls.

Here’s the truth. They couldn’t give me what I need. They didn’t see my strong opinions, my knowledge, my feelings, my emotional heart, as value added for their organization. 

They saw unprofessionalism. They saw disrespect. They saw disregard for authority. They saw unwillingness to listen. 

Are they right? I bet that’s how it looked and felt to them. From where they sat, I’d imagine I was unpredictable and a pain in the ass and yes, absolutely disrespectful of authority. 

I’ve realized something. People believe – they might be right – that sometimes you just have to do what you are told because the people in charge are in charge and they are there for a reason and they deserve your respect. 

I will respect difference of opinions always. When you hear me. When you see me. And I’m always going to write when I think people are making bad decisions. I’m not going to be quiet. Through my tears and panic, I said something to the people on the zoom call that might be the truest thing ever said to them. 

“I’m a writer, I write when I feel things.”

I’ve been trying to bend and twist who I am into a shape it will not hold. 

Terminate. Failure. You screwed up. You are bad. You are stupid. 

These played so loud in my head over the past few days.

And then, two things happened: 

My daughter said, “Mama, I’m scared you are sliding into sadness again.” Because seven years ago I had breakdown and ended up in day treatment and a long climb out of sadness. She remembers. She’s only 14. But she remembers. 

So does my son. His answer was: “Fuck them. Burn it down. They don’t deserve you. Aren’t you getting paid to do editing writing crap anyway?”

And then I received a notification about The Little Book Project WI. I have two poems featured in their edition this fall focused on mental illness and stigma.  One is a double acrostic – if you read this blog, you know I’m obsessed with acrostics. The name of the poem – HEARME/LISTEN. 

That is what you call a sign, my friends. A neon sign. The universe is saying you better fucking listen Tasslyn. 

I am a poet. I am a writer. I am a mom. A wife. A hard wired high emotion passionate creative artist who is making art. Who is happiest, making art. Who must write. Who must create to survive. 

Terminate is still ringing in my ears. I’m going to write an acrostic about it. It might be just for me, letting go of all of the hurt and confusion. I’ll let you know if it’s any good. Lots of stuff I write is just for me. 

I used to be a fundraiser. A database analyst. I still might do database things – I mean, have you seen how much poets make? But that’s a job.

I am a poet.

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