High Anxiety: An Interview with Xana DiLanche
Neopian Times: On behalf of all of us here at the Neopian Times, we'd like to welcome Xana DiLanche, goalkeeper for the Shenkuu Ninjas.
Xana DiLanche: Thanks for having me.
NT: So, tell us. What's it like to be the youngest person on the team?
XD: Well, I've got to say, it's an honor. I was pretty nervous at first, but my teammates were all very supportive. I remember the very first day we practiced together—Timu came up to me and slapped me on the shoulder and told me she still remembered how it felt when she came from the Altadorian team and that if I ever needed to talk, I could go to her any time.
NT: Sounds like you and your team are quite close.
XD: Well, yeah. That's what it's all about, right? I mean, it's great to win, but at the end of the day this is a job. You have to enjoy it, and we definitely do.
NT: Shenkuu has been faring rather poorly in the Altador Cup for several years now. Any comments on the coming season?
XD: Only that I'm very excited! Actually, I have every faith that we can do well this year. We've got such a devoted fan base back home, and you know when it comes to slinging slushies we've been training hard. As for our Yooyu ball team, we believe that if we stick together and try our hardest, we can do great things.
NT: That's a lovely thought.
XD: Like I said, it's great to win, but really we're less of a team and more of a family. An extend, sweaty family in Yooyu ball uniforms.
NT: You've stated in the past that the biggest problem you've had to overcome is your nerves. Is that still accurate?
XD: Very much, yes. It's sad, but anxiety like what I have doesn't just go away. You've got to learn to control it. It's an ongoing battle.
NT: It was so bad for a while that you were questioning leaving the team, right?
XD: Definitely. Year 14. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. All through the Cup I would wake up early in the morning and think, what's going to go wrong today? Will my hands be so sweaty I can't block the Yooyus? What if I get burned by a fire Yooyu? What if the fans get upset with me and start booing? None of those things actually happened, but I wasn't really thinking about that.
NT: Shenkuu didn't fare very well in Year 14.
XD: No. Last place, group 4. And for a while I really blamed myself. I was very ashamed. But now I've come to realize that someone's always going to have to take last. And that's okay.
NT: Have you managed to work past many of your anxieties? And if so, how?
XD: I'd say I'm still a little nervous, but I'm improving all the time. I've definitely been helped by my teammates, and even some of the other teams. I remember one game in particular, where we were up against Brightvale. I was very afraid of Kayn Hireck, their left forward, because he was so big and it seemed like all it would take was one wrong move on his part and I could get squashed. I know it sounds silly, but when you're as jumpy as I was then everything seems dangerous. Every time he would make a play I would have to try so hard not to flinch. I guess I didn't do a very good job, because during a time-out he took me aside and talked with me about what he could do to make me feel better. He ended up giving me a great big hug and even started taking more of a support role to Reb, their other forward.
NT: You had supporters even on the other teams.
XD: Kayn was one, and Reshar Collifey, the goalkeeper for Darigan Citadel. Timu suggested I talk to him, and it turns out we're both the least experienced on both of our teams. We had a lot of the same problems!
NT: Any advice for other 'pets out there who might be suffering from anxiety like you?
XD: Find something to occupy your time. I used to go home after practice and drink slushies and just worry. Then, last season, I decided I needed to get out and do something. So I went out to the Shenkuu Lunar Temple and started learning from the wise Gnorbu about the stars and the planets, and it's all so fascinating that I don't have time to worry. For instance, did you know that Kreludor may have been formed by an asteroid striking Neopia billions of years ago?
NT: An asteroid, or an S750 Kreludan Defender 'bot?
XD: *laughs* I'm not sure. Anyway, the most important thing to anyone trying to handle their nerves is to have some kind of outlet. Whether it's a quiet trip all by yourself down to the fishing vortex in Maraqua or a game of Splat-a-Sloth on the Virtupets Space Station, you gotta be able to unwind. And you also need someone to talk to. I'm so lucky to have the team I do. Mirsha and Antola always know how to make me laugh, and Larcy is good at figuring out how to solve problems—even if they're silly problems like shoulder pads that don't fit. I'll bet you didn't know that; he's secretly very good at sewing.
NT: I would never have guessed. What about you, Xana?
NT: Mirsha and Antola are good at making you laugh, Larcy is good at sewing. What are you good at?
XD: I hadn't thought about that before. Can I have a second to think?
XD (after a bit): I guess I'm good at foreseeing problems. It comes with the nerves. They're a blessing and a curse, you know? They can make it hard to function, but they can also help you to look at things in new ways and to be cautious when you need to be.
NT: How do you mean?
XD: Like a few days ago, when we were getting our new equipment. We were going to send out Yooyu couriers to pick them up, but I noticed the sky was starting to look a little overcast. I said something to the others, and we decided to put off sending the couriers for a few hours. Not an hour later, it started hailing! We were glad I'd been worried then. If those Yooyus had gone out in that kind of weather, the poor things would have been bonked silly!
NT: So no more thoughts of leaving the team?
XD: Definitely not. They need me to do the worrying for them!
NT: *laughs* Well, we're just about out of time. Any last words for our readers?
XD: Turn your weaknesses into positives! I always thought my worrying would only pull me down, but it turns out I'm really good at planning ahead with those thoughts.
NT: Thanks for taking the time for a chat.
XD: Thanks for having me.