Why Survivor is awesome and if you disagree you’re probably wrong

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Hiya readers! This is my second post and I am pretty excited! I have a million and one ideas right now but I am trying to spread them out every two weeks so I don’t run out of them. Any who, today’s post centers around an under appreciated show, one of which I am obsessed with. Owayoayoayoayayoayoayo(the survivor theme song)

A show that has stretched more than 36 seasons and that many people have given up on. I, on the other hand, can acknowledge that the same thing can get boring but Survivor has a format that keeps things interesting. Below I have broken down the reasons why you should start watching Survivor or keep watching it, if you are trying to be a quitter.

  1. The theme song: The many variations of the Survivor theme song is my literal jam. I could dance to this all day. My family makes fun of me mercilessly for having this song on my iPhone and playing it in the shower, but I know they are secretly jealous. One time at trivia with my friends, this song awoke me and I was writing it down super fast before the second syllable had even been sung. It’s unique, it’s well paced, upbeat and most of all: makes you feel like you are capable of pretty much anything! The music in the show in general is darn good but the theme song stands out as what hooks people from the start.  Link here from someone else’s youtube account: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyb2HYSne3E
  2. The entertaining social dynamic:  Have you ever been stuck in a car with people for a long road trip and your companions start to really get on your nerves? Now imagine being stuck on an island with a cup of rice a day, bugs, scorching hot weather/endless raining and sleeping on bamboo with a subpar shelter to protect you from the rain. These factors, especially the HANGRY factor, are instrumental in creating some very entertaining interactions between contestants of the show. Survivor does not need to make stuff up or pit people against each other like other reality shows. The human mind can only withstand so much. So each season, with the different combinations of people, there are new antics. That freaking irritating lab partner from high school could be the one you have to sleep next to in a shelter for 39 days. Some examples that stick out in my head includes Tony and Kass’s fight in which Tony started speaking to her in “llama language”, J-Tia’s lack of swimming ability causing Spencer to have a full on temper tantrum and Sandra listing why everyone on her tribe sucks. There really are endless laugh out loud moments. The bottom line is that Survivor pushes people beyond their boundaries and the result, though occasionally detrimental for them (i.e. Brandon Hantz), is fabulous entertainment for the viewers.

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3.Parvati shallow: This woman is my idol and she should be yours too. I am currently having trouble finding the words to describe her brilliance. She came on the show at 24 years old as a sorority girl/boxer who seemed to be looking for an adventure. She was a type cast pretty girl and used her athleticism and social skills to make it to day 36. She is/was funny and was well liked enough to be invited back for an Allstar season. That’s when she blew people out of the water. The first season she wasn’t even trying that hard but she exhibited adaptability in her second season, something a lot of returnees fail to do due to low self awareness. She handedly won the game even though she was a huge target from the start. Her charm and charisma had nearly every contestant aligned with her. She won multiple challenges and she orchestrated many blindsides, by leading an alliance called the Black Widow Brigade. She changed the game of survivor by perfecting the blindside while remaining loyal to her true alliance. Some of her highlights include holding her arm over her head for six hours using the power of meditation and when she played two idols in her third season to completely change the course of the game. There are abundant reasons why Parvati’s time on Survivor transformed her into a role model for women.  She proved that she was strong enough to withstand the most days of anyone in three seasons of playing and to compete as an equal with the men in challenges. She displayed mental focus and calm even when all of the odds were against her, persevering towards her success. She has demonstrated to women that it is okay to put yourself first sometimes and she has admirably been a part of many charitable causes since. giphy.gif

4. This show is an adventureFrom the natural elements of the island to the interpersonal catastrophes, this show creates characters to root for as they battle for the million dollars. Anyone who wins this game has earned it and been through a lot to get there. It’s not like Big Brother where they live in a luxury mansion and occasionally have to eat slop; they are stuck on this island 24 hours a day. I personally have a lot of respect for each contestant who gives it a try.

5. Survivor may have higher rate of romantic success than The Bachelor/Bachelorette: I did some research and out of 35 seasons of The Bachelor and the Bachelorette, 7 couples remain together. That’s a 20 percent chance of success in a show meant to end in marriage. The format of that being the end goal and engagement needing to happen by the end of the season, in my opinion, sets contestants up for failure. In survivor, that is not the goal and contestants get to know each other in sometimes traumatic settings. Shared trauma is one the big factors that brings couples together. Rob and Amber is possibly the cutest story in Survivor history, with the two of them forming an extremely tight alliance and going to the final two. He proposed to her and they now have four children. In some mind blowing stats, in 36 seasons of Survivor, 8 couples are still together with a 67 percent success rate (meaning out of the 12 couples that occurred). This includes some Survivor contestants that have met through other seasons such as Parvati and John but still. Showmances in Survivor make everyone happy and I’m really rooting for Michael and Libby to be a couple on this current season.

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6. The breathtaking locations : As you can see at the top of this post, Survivor films in some mesmerizingly beautiful locations. From Fiji to Cook Islands to Samoa, your eyes will be aesthetically pleased when watching this show.

I will leave you with this awesome quote from a legendary contestant Sandra Diaz-Twine “The worst tribe ever put together is the Villains tribe. I should not even be here. I should be with the Heroes. Because I can’t stand Jerri, I hate Coach, I HATE Danielle and I hate Russell even MORE.”

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Resiliency: A concussion diary

Dear readers,

It is noteworthy that I am wearing sunglasses as I type this. It helps with the bright light and though many people make fun of me, it’s quite useful. I have even been compared to Jenna from Pretty Little Liars.

Okay people, I am writing this for all of you fellow brain injury survivors and anyone else interested in this epidemic. I am not going to describe the medical definition because that’s what the internet dictionary is for. This is a post to fuel the resiliency of those who have suffered like I have and to fuel the support of their loved ones. We can all do it!!!

So my first official concussion occurred when I was fourteen-years-old and I am now twenty.

Anyway, I got elbowed in the head at a basketball game. I felt immediately dizzy and went down. My coach ended up putting me back on because we were in the high school tournament championships and I was having a pretty awesome game. BIG MISTAKE COACH. Lucky for me, I didn’t get hit again that game and a few days later my brain felt as good as new. Yes it felt better but my brain was in a very susceptible and vulnerable period. I should have been hiding out in my room with nothing that could possibly collide with my head. But my family and I were concussion newbies and didn’t know better.

So instead I went to Saunder’s Farm and went on a haunted hayride with my friends. During the ride, a big fake spider fell down on us. My friend was horrified and lurched forward to avoid getting hit by the spider. Instead their head smashed into mine. It was a severely bad hit that left my head feeling like a big block of cement with a headband of pain surrounding it. For four months straight. Not one second went by without it hurting tremendously. And so commenced my concussion curse.

Fortunately for me, my loving and protective parents became very educated on the topic of cerebral injuries and were not going to risk anything stupid during that period of time. Unfortunately for me, that meant not much socializing due to my lack of activity options, zero electronics (tv, phone,e-reader, iPod..), no listening to music (silence is NOT golden), minimal incrementally increasing exercise, millions of doctor visits paired with SCAT tests and barely any progress. My family values school extremely, so I rarely missed a day and always did my homework in a painful and slow way. That wasn’t what I should have done for my head, I should have not gone back to school until it stopped hurting. However, in my family’s time of becoming informed on this topic, my grades and only social interaction were not something we were willing to give up. But I should have given them up until I recovered. I didn’t.

Oh yeah. And ABSOLUTELY NO BASKETBALL.

Many people might say basketball is just a game. A sport that entertains players and their parents in a gym. For my fourteen-year-old self it was a lifestyle. Both of my parents played and their first date was playing one-on-one at their university’s residence court. Both of my younger siblings and I played rep basketball from a very young age. We lived, ate and breathed it. Practices three times a week, games on the weekend.

Basketball was my first love. It empowered me. Before basketball, I was a shy, anxious and overly sensitive child afraid to make friends. A kid with zero self-esteem. A kid who was excluded. But over time basketball transformed me. It gave me purpose, confidence and friendship. My teammates and I became a family as we survived the wrath of our coaches for missing a layup or making a bad pass.

I thrived in the acidic environment of the competitive basketball world as I realized when we had to run a mile before the tryout even began, that I would be one of the leading runners. When I discovered that I was actually talented. When the evaluators and my coach told me my skills were elevated. That I had court vision. That I could lead the team. That my hard work and athleticism were desired and needed.

Basketball made me feel strong, powerful and beautiful. It made me feel special. It gave me the confidence to make friends at school. To raise my hand in class. And to finally talk to boys when I had crushes on them. It gave me the strength to stand up for myself.

So when I wasn’t allowed to even go and support my teammates at our games during that first concussion, it hurt me. I missed cheering them on, seeing them dive for balls and represent our school. Our team had won the city three years in a row at that point and we were becoming a dynasty. I had been on the starting lineup.

But my mom insisted the gym was too loud and the lights too bright. She was right. It did make my consistent headache even worse. Unbearable. But it was worth it. I even tried to sneak out of class but my coach, on instructions from my mom, walked me back to class.

The worst part was that some of my teammates thought I didn’t come to games because I didn’t like to watch anyone else do well. Nobody knew enough about concussions then and they assumed things they knew nothing about. I heard a couple of them whispering about it in the hallway once. I went to the bathroom and cried a ton. None of it was fair. I felt I had lost everything. Like I couldn’t really live until my head was better. Until the stupid headache subsided. I envisioned ripping “the headband of pain” off of my head. Or clawing the pain out of it. Concussions make you more emotional and unstable. They make you depressed.

Soon, a constant dull pain in my chest accompanied that of my head. Even though I had the best family ever, I felt totally alone. Because I couldn’t exercise, my mind played tricks on me. I hadn’t realized how dependent my mental state was on exercise until then. I developed slight body dysmorphia and believed I was fat, even though I was literally a tween twig.

It took a toll on my family too. But eventually I recovered from that concussion and I could breathe again. After many steps and forms to fill out, I got back into playing. For the next three years, I kept playing and the pattern repeated. Whether it was high school basketball or my club team, I would get hit and because I was so susceptible from additive effects, it was usually a concussion.

Often I would get lucky, and it would last a week before I could start easing into practice again. I would shoot around and do running and work my way up to scrimmages and games. Other times I would get unlucky and it would last 2 months, 6 months. Each time I would suffer the same physical, mental and emotional symptoms but I got better at managing them. My family did too. I pushed myself to still excel in school and get a high average. I ended up getting into the of University of Waterloo. My family and I were proud and excited. I felt the cost to my head was worth it. My parents rarely suggested not playing anymore. They loved it too and they didn’t want to take it away from me.

But basketball morphed as well. It began to mean something different to me over time. It was no longer a life vessel but an enjoyable extracurricular activity that I learned to live without when I had to. It still brought me immense joy but it was terrifying for me. Each game was a risk. My friend at university discovered that I usually miss layups because I am already thinking about trying to avoid getting hit by the rebound.

This year in my third year of university, I suffered my 22nd brain injury, 17 little hits and 5 major ones. An eye opening hospital visit brought everything into perspective. It’s time to choose my brain. I have finally learned that I have so much in my life without basketball. That I have so much life to live and it should not be shortened because I am putting myself at risk.

I am going to be my intramural team’s cheerleader and be a coach in the future. I am going to start doing no contact sports and I am going to get to do many more things than I would have if I continued risking my life for a sport.

I am so blessed by a support system of wonderful friends and family. For any of them reading this, I can’t thank you enough for being there for me along this difficult path. I hope anyone else suffering from brain trauma knows that they are not alone in their pain and that there is a life without their sport if they play one.

Feel free to reach out to me on the contact page if you need someone to talk to.