Things No One Tells You About… Being A Contestant on Survivor

The autumn to winter season has us thinking about those transition periods in your life—full of excitement, anticipation, but also some nerves about embarking into the unknown. That’s why this month, we’re lifting the veil on some interesting experiences to share what no one tells you about them… until now. Today, Lyrsa Torres shares with things no one told her before she joined the cast of Survivor.

Nobody told me that after doing the TV competition show Survivor, I was going to appreciate toilet paper as much as food. Survivor has been my favorite reality TV show since it began in May 2000, and I never expected to be part of it. I was casually visiting friends in LA when I checked the casting website and they were holding live auditions close to where I was staying. I had to go, just for the fun of it. A couple of months later I was contacted by production, and the adventure began.

Nobody told me how long and secretive the audition process was. I couldn’t tell anybody about this, except my immediate family members and my girlfriend. Once the casting process ended and I was selected, social media became a concern. I was very active on all my social media, and I had no real excuse to just disappear. I told my friends I was going to fat camp, and most of them actually believed it. Fat camp was the best thing I could think of. If I lasted long in the game there was going to be a extreme loss of weight, and it could function as my decoy reason for not being active (on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

As a fan of the show I thought I knew what I was getting into, but the reality of the game was far away from the reality I expected to be. Sounds complicated, right? People think that you are recorded for some hours, and then there is a buffet waiting for you. Not really! We really had to go back in time and turn ourselves in hunter-gatherers. If I didn’t go out and try to fish or catch some crabs, there was not going to be food in my belly. There were no luxuries like people might think. No toothbrush, deodorant, toilet paper. You are stripped back to nothing, only the clothes you have on. As the days pass by, you start to smell really bad. It’s a smell I can’t describe. Moldy cheese is the closest thing that comes to mind. My season was a wet one, so it rained a lot. We had 2 hurricanes while playing, and that meant that we were never dry.

Nobody told me that the challenges were going to be so demanding physically. From the comfort of your living room couch, you scream at the television when people are falling behind or doing a puzzle wrong and think “What a loser, I can do that”. But you know what? Nobody told me that those challenges are hard as f**k. Those puzzle blocks are not made out of foam. They are heavy, very heavy. And the challenge that got us to the tribal I was voted out, that saucer must have weight around 150 pounds.

Nobody told me that although I wanted to play an honest and loyal game, some other players had a different idea on their minds. I have really good intuition, but when you spend so many days sleep deprived, with just enough food to sustain yourself for an extra day, your body starts to shut down, and your brain is not working at its full capacity. You start losing track of what people told you. You get paranoid and have no clue who to trust. You think that your alliance/buddy is being honest because you are being honest, but sometimes they are not. After all this is a game, for 1 million dollars, and everybody wants to win.

The whole Survivor experience was way more than what I was expecting. It made me appreciate life more, because when you are stripped down to almost nothing, a lot of things are really meaningless. I didn’t miss my phone at all, although now I am back to having it glued to my hand most of the day. Nobody told me this sudden “fame” also has its downfalls. People judge you for an idea of the reality they think is real. They could either love you, or drag you simply because you survive another day while their favorite is gone. But would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Now I know what to expect, nobody has to tell me—and I am ready to win.

Lyrsa on Survivor

Lyrsa Torres was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She is a Customer Service Coordinator and a Gastronomy Grad student at BU. She was a contestant in the 37th season of Survivor and currently lives in Boston with her fiancé Jessica and their 2 cats: Maquiavelo and Amaranta.

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