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say it with moxy

Women with Moxy: Annie Nelson




Tell us about yourself.  Who are you to the world?

I have a lot of hobbies and interests - it feels like everyone knows a different version of me! I like to travel and spend time outdoors - I am a rock climber, beginner surfer, and I like to hike and go for walks. I have a lot of allergies so I cook most of my own food, and I have recently gotten into growing things like herbs and even mushrooms. I used to be a nanny and I still really love spending time with kids - I babysit occasionally in my free time and a few of my friends will be having kids soon and I am helping them through that.


Professionally, I am a data analyst. In 2022 I changed careers to become a data analyst and documented the whole journey. Last year I even wrote a book about it! The greatest number of people in the world know me as “Annie the data analyst and content creator” because of the size of my following on social media. I really love my career. I enjoy my job, and I love that I work remotely. I just got back from a surf trip to Costa Rica which I was able to go on because I could work remotely while I was there.

 

Was there a moment when you first realized you had Moxy?

I have always been someone who marched to the beat of my own drum, looking back. But I don’t think I ever really saw that as a good thing. It just seemed to keep me out of social circles because I was too interested in the things I liked.


It wasn’t until I started graduate school in my early 20’s that I started to realize that my passion and interest could actually be a superpower - and the more I embraced it, the more I found people who loved me for it. Then in 2022 it really clicked for me when I started learning data analytics with the intention of making it a side hustle, and within six months I had changed careers, quadrupled my salary, suddenly had a 100% remote job, and had ~30,000 followers on social media.


People would ask me “how did you do it?” and although I have made it my mission to break down all of the steps I took in a repeatable and approachable way, I also realized that it was this internal drive and passion - my moxie - that allowed me to do what I did - the career and the social media (and now the book!).

            

Tell us about a time when your Moxy has impacted your life...

I try to live a life that embraces my Moxy. I realized how finite life is when I was 20 years old and almost died when a new rock climbing partner made a mistake that almost killed me (I was ok, but only sheer luck kept me from disaster) - and then again at 23 when I developed an auto-immune disorder that made me question if I would ever feel healthy again (I do, now).


Those two experiences made me look at my life and go “how do I really want to live?”. The answer was that I want to live right now, and not waste my life waiting for the weekend, the next vacation, retirement…. That has led to me really embracing my Moxy and making a series of decisions that are often described as “brave” or “bold” or “determined”. Whether that’s essentially live streaming switching careers before I know if it will work or not, jumping off the high dive, surfing a wave that scares me, or going on solo adventure travel trips, embracing my Moxie shapes my life regularly.

 

Share something unsuspecting about you? What would people be surprised to know?

Before I got into data I was a nanny and got my master’s degree/license in occupational therapy. I have always been fascinated with studying others, and people in my life regularly refer to me as their therapist/suggest I could become a mental health counselor some day if I wanted to. I even have had a few workplaces where my boss would have me sit in on interviews to get a sense for the person and how I thought they would fit on the team.


When I get into discussions about psychological topics with my data friends/ colleagues, they’re often really surprised at how much I have learned about psychology and how interesting I find it. I am particularly interested in neurodivergence, sensory processing, and attachment theory. When I get the opportunity to talk about those subjects I have a lot of interesting things to share, and people are often amazed at how each of those topics can be a lens through which to view all of the patterns and relationships in their life.


For example, have you ever heard of the Strange Situation? It is a psychological experiment which is at the foundation of attachment theory. If you have heard of it, I learned a super interesting fact recently. Do you know how children with dismissive/avoidant attachment styles tend to play independently from their caregivers and show no reaction when they leave the room or return? Well, they studied these children and found two interesting things.


  1. Despite their outward signs of not caring whether their attachment figure was in the room or not, when their physiological markers of stress were tested they experienced as much if not more stress as the other children did when their caregiver left the room.

  2. These children had a tendency to play very close to their caregiver, but with their back turned. It seemed as though they had realized that if they asked for affection straight up, their caregiver would reject them. So they did the next best thing and made it seem like they were not seeking proximity/ attention, while getting as close as they could manage to still get some closeness.


How do you recharge your Moxy?

I am a very good napper. I am very protective of my sleep, and so my first line of defense when I am feeling low is simply to drink water and get some sleep. I also like to keep active every day. Either a nice walk in the sunshine or a good climbing session are my two standard recharge activities.


What did you want to be when you were little?

Vana White, the woman who would spin the wheel on Wheel of Fortune. She got to get paid to to wear pretty dresses, travel around, and wave her arm at a screen. This is mostly a joke, but if the opportunity arose I was ready to take it.


Mostly I wanted to be a scientist. Or somehow just a Really Smart Person. My parents both have PhDs in biology and great careers as scientists, and so I don’t even have any memories of feeling like society would call me a “female scientist”. I just thought that everyone could be a scientist and a Really Smart Person and I thought that was cool.

 

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