I think a common misconception about me, Tom Whalen, is that I am a workaholic. See, I am well respected in the Autism community here in Maryland. I’m almost an Autism “ambassador” here. And in no way do I take regret in that title or use it lightly.
But for me it’s not All Work and No Play. I like to have fun just as much as the next person. Maybe it’s a combination depending on situations. I LOVE my job and consider it my life’s calling. So what do I do for work? I am an Autism self advocate. I speak publicly about my life and experiences on the Autism Spectrum. And who knows? Maybe in this instance, the label “Workaholic” could be a good thing.
As I said, I really don’t have that All Work and No Play mentality. I have a life outside my advocacy work…well, sort of. I absolutely love talking to people about my Autism diagnosis. But at the same time, I’m not the kind of person who is in-your-face about it or shoving it down your throat constantly. In public, I socialize, drink, go to shows, movies, et cetera…in general just have a good time.
But if someone asks me about work or what I do, I am ecstatic and will happily tell them. Simply because this is my life. In other words, I know what I am talking about. Look, I know this next statement will sound cliche, but I really feel, in the humblest way possible, like I have the best job in the world. I get to travel occasionally to various places in Maryland and DC once to speak. I have well-respected allies. And that means the world to me. I know—or at least hope—I am educating people about Autism and potentially making a difference.
So in closing, do I enjoy my work? Uh…DUH! But I feel I really don’t deserve the “workaholic” title. I am merely an employee who loves his job. That’s all. So what do you think? Is there anything about you that you’d consider a misconception? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!