As I eagerly sat watching the Survivor Season 35 finale, I was also scrolling through my Twitter feed, smiling at the support flooding in as Ben got named the winner of Survivor Season 35. Now, two days later, many claim that the entire game was rigged to help Ben win. But from where I stand, it wasn’t like that at all.
Sure he got some lucky breaks but that’s part of the game … and that’s part of life. As a slight Survivor newb, I couldn’t help but notice how closely Survivor parallels with life. Ben’s Survivor journey’s showed us that life is a lot like Survivor and he, in his own right, deserved to be the winner of Survivor Season 35.
Survivor: Ben went looking for the immunity idols
~~Life Lessons: Go after opportunities
Every morning, Ben woke up before anyone else and actively look for idols. The idols didn’t just fall into his lap either.
EXHIBIT A: I remember screaming at the TV when he literally walked past a hidden immunity idol three times. It was only with a quick glance up towards the sky as he was talking about his wife did he see the idol.
EXHIBIT B: In the last day before Tribal Council, Ben spent all night looking for an idol and found nothing. Running on fumes, Ben was about to lie down to rest when he saw the clue for the hidden immunity idol. He could’ve missed it.
Which brings me to the next point…
SURVIVOR: Ben received a second chance because he never gave up
~~Life Lesson: Have you heard of the Law of Attraction?
There’s a popular philosophical belief called the law of attraction where it is believed that people’s thoughts attract either negative or positive experiences into their lives. Although not new, in fact, this way of thinking recently surged into mainstream media.
It’s the new form of ‘meditation’ if you will. Perhaps you’ve heard your friends and family members gush about it or maybe you were given the famous Secret book for the holidays. Rhonda Byrne‘s The Secret, written in 2006, discusses the law of attraction, what it is and how to put it into practice.
As we look back on Ben’s journey in Survivor, we see him constantly asking the universe to help him win the game for his wife. Whether he won through luck, a rigged game, or the law of attraction, you can’t deny that Ben fought hard and the Survivor gods rewarded him. Just like in life, if you keep fighting for your dreams, the universe will reward you. (fingers crossed)
SURVIVOR: Ben suddenly found himself the target and had to change his game plan
~~Life Lesson: When life gives you oranges instead of lemons, make orange juice
In his interviews post-Survivor finale, Ben shared with Parade “Joe was so good at that [changing up the tide]. He got Mike on board, and Mike said on day zero that I was the biggest threat. […] But I hated it, I was so frustrated. My game was disappearing right in front of my eyes.”
One day you’re on top of the world and then the next day, you’re going home. Like a rug pulled out from underneath you. It’s the same with life. And it sucks. So when life throws shit at you, you can either learn to swim fast or drown.
SURVIVOR: Ben found motivation in his family and other veterans
~~Life Lesson: You can’t do everything alone. You need outside support either from family, friends or like-minded people.
“You just have to have that driving force, whether it be your family, motivation to win money, motivation to win the title […] And it’s so easy to give up out there. People do literally give up because we’re so tired and mentally and physically drained. […] No one’s going to give you anything, you have to go out and earn it. That’s where my drive and work ethic came into play.”
No more words needed, my friends. The Mighty Ben has spoken.
But in all seriousness, Ben is right. At the end of the day, Survivor is a reality TV television. No matter how malnourished the contestants appear on screen, the producers of the show would NEVER put any of them in an actual life or death situation. Can you imagine the lawsuits and scandals that would arise? It would screw up the entire network.
Which leads me to one more thing that Ben’s win has taught me about life…..
When Ben found himself suddenly on the chopping block literally almost every single Tribal council post-merge, he knew it was do or die for him. He could no longer depend on anyone else to help him and therefore “played an awful social game”.
“….when your back’s up against the wall and everybody’s gunning for you, you get a little defensive. […] But I was out there having fun! I was always going home the next Tribal, so why not have fun? It’s a game, have fun with it. That was my thought process.”
And he was right. At the end of the day, when all’s said and done, Survivor is ultimately about “did you leave it all on the table?” Did you do everything you could on that island to win that million dollars prize? Or do you have regrets on alliances you should have made, emotions you should’ve ignored, moves you should’ve made. Sure Ben won. But even if he didn’t, I think he’s proud of his fight until the end.
Just as we can’t stop fighting in our own lives for the things that we want. It’s tough, don’t I know it. Like Ben, I deal with mental illness every day and it’s tough. So you gotta fight, as just you would fight in Survivor. If you want a life of no regrets, you can’t give up. Leave it all on the table. Even if you lose, at least you can say that you tried.
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