Survivor Strategiser – Final 4

And we’re back. Tonight, we saw the second to last episode of Australian Survivor All Stars, & we were all on the edge of our seats as we watched the Final 4 battle it out for a spot in the Final 3. Let’s get right into it.

The episode began with a clear rivalry marked out. Brooke was out to win another immunity challenge & see Dave out of the game, knowing he was the biggest threat remaining. She also thought Sharn & Moana were missing the mark in not voting for Dave. Meanwhile, David was reflecting on what the game & winning sole survivor means to him, talking about his family & how important it was for him to win individual immunity at the next challenge. Ultimately, the battle lines were drawn, with Brooke on one side, Dave on the other, & Sharn & Moana firmly in the middle. And I think we’d all agree it was quite different without the kind-spirited Tarzan at camp.

To the immunity challenge, & we bore witness to what appeared to be multiple challenges we’ve previously seen, or at least elements of those challenges, all rolled into one. First, rolling a ball down a ramp & navigating quickly through an obstacle course to catch it in time. Second, shooting the ball into a hoop of sorts netball style. Third, throwing coconuts at two targets to break them. Fourth grabbing a puzzle bag & dragging it under an obstacle to get to a ladder template. Fifth, putting the puzzle pieces in place correctly to build the ladder & climb over the top. And finally, grabbing a bag containing three balls, which would be navigated up a hole-filled wall one at a time to be deposited in three correctly shaped holes at the top, using a pulley-based mechanism. A grueling challenge. Brooke & David were well out the gate at the start, with Brooke gaining the lead for a short time. She was soon overtaken by David, however caught up once again, & took the lead again for a very short time. David was right on her tail though, catching up & overtaking her, gaining a bit of a lead on the puzzle. Meanwhile, Moana & Sharn were left behind, still attempting to get through the first obstacle. Dave & Brooke were now on level pegging yet again, however, Dave managed to get through the puzzle & onto the final part of the challenge first. Brooke was right behind him. After both dropped their first ball, it was anyone’s game. Both got their first in place, however, Brooke fell behind after dropping her second. This gave Dave the opportunity he needed, allowing him to gain a good lead after securing his second ball. With everyone on the edge of their seats, we watched as Dave shakily progressed, getting his ball higher & higher up the wall, Brooke still on her second. And while Brooke came close, David managed to pull through, winning a second individual immunity this season, & securing his place in the Final 3.

After the challenge, Brooke knew she was likely to go. Dave was understandably emotional, given he had needed to win this challenge & did. Back at camp, Brooke came up with a pitch, & put it to Sharn, telling her that she couldn’t beat Dave at the end, & questioning whether Dave would even take Sharn to the end. Sharn was wary, however, Moana was also wary of Sharn, knowing she could easily flip. Dave & Moana seemed solid, & even though Brooke made an effort to sow seeds of doubt in Moana’s mind, it seemed Moana was set on voting for Brooke. Brooke obviously wasn’t going down without a fight.

The same was evident at tribal council, where Brooke put her strong social game on full display. After a she said-she said situation between Brooke & Sharn, with both pointing fingers at the other, denying they said certain things themselves, Brooke put it out there that Dave was a strong challenge competitor & would be most likely to win the final immunity challenge, & likely the game, if she went home. Yet her pitch clearly wasn’t enough, as all three of the remaining Mokuta alliance put their votes on Brooke, sending her to the Jury Villa. And so, we have our Final 3.

Analysis & Predictions

Tonight was a fairly straightforward one as soon as Dave won individual immunity. Brooke was obviously in the firing line, & Dave knew he had to ensure her elimination from the game so as to ensure he could win. Brooke was the only other player who could beat Dave, & likely would have if she got to the end, with the majority of the jury being her friends. She also would have likely voted him out at the next tribal provided she won the final immunity challenge, & taken Moana to the end. Brooke played a strong social game, & her attempt to turn Moana & Sharn against each other was a testament to the player she was. However, it seemed that remarks made at tribal & the argument that ensued between herself & Sharn cemented Sharn’s vote for her, & Moana was always likely to stick with Dave on this vote, likely knowing Brooke would easily beat her at Final Tribal.

Dave is now in the best position to win. Depending on the final immunity challenge, Dave has a very good chance of taking it out, particularly if it is endurance based. He’s been a strong competitor this season. If he wins the final individual immunity, Dave is likely to win, with one of the greatest resumes I’ve ever seen. I’ve been compiling that resume for weeks now, & so, seeing as we’re down to Final 3, here it is:

  • Vote Count: 5 (for a big player like Dave, that’s extremely impressive)
  • Engineered Jericho vote
  • Secret alliance with Mat
  • Engineered major tribal with Daisy vote, Mat’s correct idol play, the flushing of Brooke’s idol (without suggesting to her to play the idol. AK actually suggested it), & put on a very good act of surprise when the votes fell on Daisy
  • Played from the bottom & survived after tribe swap
  • Made a fake idol
  • Found an idol
  • Found a second idol using the clue Phoebe found & told him, putting her off the scent in order to secure it
  • First player in Australian Survivor history to possess two idols simultaneously
  • Engineered Phoebe blindside
  • Wore an idol at tribal council
  • Engineered the elimination of the original snake, Nick
  • Still possessed two idols going into merge, & all the way up to Final 8
  • Created a strategic narrative for the Mokuta 7 going into merge
  • Made Locky think he was safe & that the Vakama 5 had his & Zach’s votes, constructing & engineering his blindside
  • Engineered the vote on Harry, thereby eliminating all those that he played with in Season 4, leaving himself as the sole remaining S4 castaway
  • Elimination of Harry allows Dave to make the claim of most consecutive days on Survivor provided he makes it to the end
  • Eliminating those he previously played with means all those who knows how he plays are out of the game, giving him better odds of making it to the end
  • Ensured his safety from the Exile twist by manipulating Zach into voluntarily going
  • Played idol for Tarzan, protecting him from a potential rock draw so as to keep his most loyal ally in the game
  • Showed the second idol to Sharn to sow doubt in her mind about moving forward with the Vakama 3 à got her to vote against the V3
  • Getting Sharn to vote against the V3 allowed Dave to take out one of the only other players who could beat him at the end, & ensure Sharn falls out of favour with the Jury
  • Took a massive risk in not playing the idol, even though he knew he’d catch votes, which ultimately paid off with a 4-3 vote against Shonee
  • Didn’t turn on Sharn when he had the chance, knowing she’s his ticket to win the game
  • Voted out his right-hand man to gain the trust of Moana & Sharn & give himself a chance should he have lost immunity
  • Ensured Brooke’s elimination, ultimately resulting in all the players that could beat him being out of the game
  • Thinks about the game on all levels
  • Has won 2 individual immunity challenges

 

Dave’s resume is surely the most impressive of the remaining three. He could beat either one of Sharn or Moana, but if he wins the final immunity challenge, it’s likely he’d take Sharn with him to Final 2, knowing she’s fallen out of favour with the majority of the Jury after voting Shonee out. She will not garner votes from Shonee, AK & Brooke, & is also highly unlikely to garner votes from Harry, Locky, & Jacqui. Zach & Tarzan are guaranteed votes for Dave. If Dave was to go the other way & take Moana, it would be an interesting one, & would likely come down to how the two present their case to the Jury. Ultimately, I think Dave has it either way, so long as he wins that all-important final immunity challenge.

 

And so with that, we look forward to the Season Finale of Australian Survivor: All Stars on Monday night, & wait in great anticipation of who will be the Sole Survivor of an amazing season. Make sure to stick around for the Reunion Special after the winner is announced too. They’re always good fun. And if you aren’t onto it already, also make sure to check out Talking Tribal with Luke Toki, Shannon Gaitz & James Mathieson. There’s a new episode out right now.

I’ll be back with the final piece of this Series after the Finale. Enjoy!

Survivor Strategiser – Final 5

Hey everyone, as promised, I’m back for the final few episodes of Australian Survivor. We’re well within the pointy end of the All Stars season now, with only four remaining after tonight’s episode. It was a surprising one to say the least, so let’s get right into it.

The episode began with 5 players remaining in the game, the Mokuta 4 consisting of Moana, Sharn, David & Tarzan, & Brooke, the last remaining member of her Vakama alliance. The next vote seemed simple for the Mokuta 4, provided Brooke didn’t win immunity.  Brooke, knowing full well she was on the outer & the obvious target, knew she had to reclaim the immunity necklace come next challenge. But she also knew she needed a backup just in case she wasn’t able to. And so, she struck up a conversation with Moana, one of the two from the Mokuta 4 who were most likely to flip. However, Moana was uncertain as to whether Brooke could be trusted. Meanwhile, it was clear that Dave & Tarzan were thick as thieves, & whilst Tarzan knew he was unlikely to win if he got to Final 2 with Dave, he was still willing to go all the way to the end with him being the genuine & trustworthy guy that he is. As to Sharn, she was thinking about how her endgame would play out, seriously considering taking Dave to the end with her so as to sit next to a big player at the Final Tribal, even though she had been talking up blindsiding him for a while.

Come immunity challenge, Brooke was ready to win & secure her place in the game. The Mokuta 4 knew that so long as one of them won immunity, they could just vote out Brooke. With Brooke getting an early lead on the others, & with Tarzan & Moana dropping their letters, & David still a fair few behind, it was down to Sharn to keep her from winning. Yet as it would happen, Sharn was just too far behind, & Brooke took out yet another individual immunity win, equaling the record for most individual immunity wins in a season. But with Brooke’s win the Mokuta 4 were thrust into an extremely difficult situation.

Back at camp, the Mokuta 4 knew their unbreakable alliance was about to come to an end. With a discussion ensuing between Moana, Sharn, & Dave, it was agreed that Tarzan would be the best option for them, so they could keep their stronger players in the game to beat Brooke & take her out of the game. However, it seemed Dave was unwilling to vote out his right-hand man, & so he began to consider other options. After a conversation with Tarzan, who had walked off to search for an idol to save himself, Dave knew Tarzan was the man he could trust, & resolved to put votes on Sharn. Meanwhile, Sharn knew nothing was ever simple with Dave & that he was clearly thinking things through. So Moana & Sharn had a conversation with Brooke, telling her to vote for Dave, however withholding the detail of Dave’s remaining idol. They also considered putting votes on Dave themselves, however, were uncertain as to whether it was a good idea.

Come tribal council, & Brooke was grinning as the Jury entered, the vast majority of them overjoyed that Brooke had taken out immunity once again. From strategizing & discussions, it seemed either Tarzan or Sharn would be leaving for the Jury Villa. After voting, JLP asked if anyone had a hidden immunity for the final time this season, &, after some contemplation, Dave decided to play the idol just in case, knowing it was the final tribal it could be played at this season. Playing the idol for himself, Dave became immune from the vote, guaranteeing himself a spot in the Final 4 with Brooke. Brooke’s vote for Dave was thereby discounted. However, after a vote for Sharn, all three of the remaining votes were on Tarzan, seeing him receive his first & final votes this season, & thus his elimination from the game. Dave had turned on his most trustworthy alliance member, & many of us were left wondering what had happened.

Analysis

Tonight’s vote seemed simple, until of course Brooke won immunity. Brooke is currently in a very similar position to the one she was in back in Season 1. At this point in the game then, she was a noted challenge beast on everyone’s radar, & had to win immunity or face certain elimination from the game. Back then, one slip up at a challenge resulted in her losing her spot in the game. In order for Brooke to progress from here, she knows she has to continue winning immunity, considering if she gets to the end she’s practically guaranteed to win, with the Jury mainly consisting of her friends.

But with Brooke winning immunity, the Mokuta 4 ended up having to split, & it went down in an odd way. Dave seemed set on keeping Tarzan in the game, which would have been a move that almost guaranteed his safety at the next tribal council if he was to lose the immunity challenge, getting him to Final 3. It appeared Dave was going to vote for Sharn with Tarzan, which would have split the vote 2-2-1, with an equal number of votes on Sharn & Tarzan, & 1 insignificant vote on Dave. If that had occurred, it would have been likely that Brooke & Sharn would vote for Tarzan in the second round, eliminating him anyway. However, Dave could have played the idol for Tarzan & saved him, securing his loyalty & taking out Sharn all in one brilliant idol play. But Dave actually voted for Tarzan, eliminating his right-hand man & a guaranteed number for him in the game, a surprising move even from David. The only explanation for his turning against Tarzan is that he wanted to show Sharn & Moana that he could be trusted to stick with them, & thus give him a little more leverage if he loses the next immunity challenge, & a way to potentially keep himself in the game.

Now, with no idols in play, it seems as if immunity is a must win for both Brooke & David, both of them the major targets, having the best resumes in game. If Dave wins immunity, it seems a sure bet that Brooke will be sent to the Jury Villa. If Brooke wins, Dave’s game may be over. However, if Sharn or Moana were to win immunity, what would ensue would be interesting to observe. The three remaining Mokuta alliance members may stick to their plan to vote out Brooke in either of these scenarios. Alternatively, they could flip on Dave & stick with Brooke. But I think that at the very least Sharn will realise that Brooke is practically guaranteed to win if she gets to the end, & of David & Brooke, Sharn would likely prefer to go to the end with Dave. Whether or not Moana comes to this realization is questionable, & yet to be seen. If one of these scenarios were to happen, there could be a 2-2 split, Sharn siding with Dave & Moana siding with Brooke. If a split was to happen, we may see another fire making challenge at tribal, one between David & Brooke. If that were to happen, either one of them could win it, considering they both have good experience in making fire, Brooke making fire to save herself in the first exile challenge, & Dave making fire with Locky without using a flint at the beginning of the season.

The next episode is sure to be a thrilling one. Moana & Sharn appear to be in safe positions. The true battle will ensue between Brooke & David, the two biggest players in this game. Both will be ready & raring to go, knowing their place in the game depends on it.

See you tomorrow night.

Survivor Strategiser – 2nd Edition

Hello & welcome back to Survivor Strategiser, the series where we look at the week’s events in the world of Australian Survivor, & analyse the gameplay & strategy that went down. This week, All Stars continued to impress with some major moves, & an Australian Survivor first. We’ve got a fair bit to get through, so let’s get right into it.

On Monday night, we bore witness to one hell of an episode, more so once we got to tribal. After last week’s blindside of Zach, Jacqui was celebrating & flaunting it like there was no tomorrow. After nicknaming herself the ‘Golden Goddess’, Jacqui began to plot her next blindside, this time on David. Meanwhile, Dave was back on the warpath with Jacqui in his sights & revenge on his mind. And after the reward challenge came to its completion, it was clear where the lines had been drawn, after Dave chose to take Tarzan, Moana & Sharn to the reward with him. Dave knew he had Tarzan & Moana on his side, but Sharn’s loyalties were still in question, and he knew he had to get her on side. Taking Sharn to the reward was his chance to do so. Sharn, however, was wary of Dave, & still had a blindside on her mind. Back at camp, Jacqui, AK, Brooke & Shonee began discussing their next move, one on Dave. They thought Dave had made a mistake leaving Jacqui at camp rather than attempting to get her back onside at the reward, but it didn’t appear to be, as Jacqui seemed to be gunning for Dave regardless. Come immunity challenge time, Dave, Tarzan, Sharn & Moana were looking clean & fresh, ready to take out the immunity necklace. A staggered immunity challenge saw 3 knocked out in Sharn, Shonee & Moana knocked out in the first stage, & Jacqui & AK knocked out in the second, leaving Dave, Tarzan & Brooke to puzzle it out. And while it came down to the last few pieces, Dave just managed to edge Brooke to win out & take the all-important immunity necklace.

After the immunity challenge, we saw a flurry back at camp. With Dave now immune from the vote, the Vakama 3 & Jacqui changed tack, deciding to put their votes on Moana. Meanwhile, the Mokuta 4 came to a decision to put their votes on Jacqui. The problem: it would be a 4-4 split, likely tying again in the second round of voting. With this in mind, Brooke, AK & Shonee were all too happy to take the risk & go to rocks. Yet AK knew that Sharn would be nervous about going to rocks, something that he could use to his advantage. After a conversation between AK & Sharn about the situation at hand, Sharn began to ponder once again flipping, ensuring her safety in the game. Tribal that night was one of the best we’ve seen this season. With conversations occurring between both alliances during the tribal, it was bound to be explosive. Dave, knowing something was up, decided to play one of his idols for Tarzan. After the first round of voting, the votes were split evenly on Jacqui & Moana. In the second round, Sharn told Tarzan to vote for Moana, something the most loyal player in the game refused to do. This ensured another even split on Jacqui & Moana, with no one changing their votes. And thus, Australian Survivor history was made, with the tribe being told they must either come to a unanimous decision or go to rocks. It was now that Dave’s idol wasn’t wasted on Tarzan, saving him from a potential rock draw. Dave & Tarzan were unwilling to budge. AK, Brooke & Shonee were willing to go to rocks. However, Sharn was not, & was willing to do practically anything to save herself. And so, Sharn pleaded with the Vakama 3, telling them she would work with them if they all unanimously decided to send Jacqui to the Jury Villa. And once JLP called time on discussion, the Vakama 3 agreed, & Jacqui was sent packing, with a rock draw narrowly avoided.

Tuesday night’s episode saw Dave attempting to bring Sharn back onside yet again. Sharn was still trying to figure out who she was going to move forward with, even though she had promised the Vakama 3 her loyalty. Meanwhile, Tarzan alerted Dave & Moana to the fact that Sharn had told him to switch his vote to Moana at the previous night’s tribal, something that Moana did not believe, putting blind faith in Sharn. After an appearance from a rogue cow, & conversations ensuing about a blindside on Dave, the immunity challenge was upon us. Again, the challenge, one of endurance, came down to Brooke & Dave, this time Brooke taking out the challenge. Back at camp, The Vakama 3, alongside Sharn, were seriously discussing a blindside on Dave. Yet Dave had an insurance policy, his second idol. Presenting the idol to Tarzan & Moana, they were enthralled. After discussing whether or not he should show it to Sharn, they left it up to him. Dave, knowing it would likely sow seeds of doubt in Sharn’s mind, pulled her aside, showing her the idol, & telling her he wasn’t going home at the upcoming tribal. Sharn began thinking about how amazing it would be to blindside Dave with an idol in his pocket. And so, tribal was upon us. With Sharn being the deciding vote, both sides were doing all they could to ensure she would vote with them. The Vakama 3 checked in with her during the tribal, & she guaranteed them her vote. After the vote, it seemed like Dave would have to play his idol. Yet he took a major risk, & decided not to. With 3 votes on Dave & 3 votes on Shonee, it all came down to Sharn’s vote. And just like that, Shonee was sent to the Jury Villa, Dave’s risk having paid off, leaving everyone wondering what Sharn was thinking.

Wednesday night saw AK & Brooke reeling from Shonee’s elimination, knowing they were next. Knowing Sharn had turned against them & couldn’t be trusted, they knew winning immunity was a must. The Mokuta 4 were fairly solid, knowing their next moves were simple ones, setting their sights on Brooke & AK. Going into the immunity challenge, Brooke & AK were ready to win, with immunity being their only guaranteed method of moving forward in the game. Dave had an early lead, however, Brooke managed to catch up. With the puzzle proving a challenge for everyone to hook with the monkey fist, it was anyone’s game. Yet AK had come to a halt, feeling nervous about jumping from a high point into the water. With encouragement from Brooke, he overcame his fear, putting him back in the challenge. Yet those minutes were costly. With almost everyone on the puzzle, Tarzan & Dave were piecing together the word puzzle, attempting to make sense of it. However, Brooke managed to come from behind yet again, figuring out the puzzle & winning immunity. After returning to camp, the Mokuta 4 were in agreeance that they’d vote for AK. But AK wasn’t going down without a fight. Searching for an idol, Moana tailed him just in case he was lucky. In order to lose the tail, he pushed over the well. Despite his best efforts, no idol was found, but after Dave followed him & Brooke into the jungle, it seemed that he might have another shot, with Dave seemingly agreeing to vote for Sharn. Although to me at least, it didn’t seem likely that Dave would vote for Sharn (something I’ll discuss in the analysis section). At tribal, AK was practically in tears, knowing it was likely he would be leaving for the Jury Villa. But the game of Survivor is never that simple, & after the vote was complete, JLP pulled another twist from his sleeves. This time, the tribe had a choice. If one of them knew they were on the chopping block, they could stop the votes from being read, & instead go to a fire making challenge which they would have to win to stay in the game. AK, knowing his game was almost up, jumped at the chance to save himself, putting his hand up to go to fire. The remainder of the tribe had to come to a unanimous decision as to who to put up against him or go to rocks to decide. Whoever competed against him would remain safe no matter what happened. After talking it over, it was decided Moana would compete. And so, after an intense fire-making challenge, Moana came through victorious, ending AK’s game, leaving Brooke on the outer as the last remaining member of the Vakama alliance.

Analysis

Now to the analysis of this week’s episodes of Australian Survivor. There’s a fair bit to unpack, but it’s worth it, so please bear with me. First, let’s look at Monday night’s explosive tribal council. Some would say that Dave’s idol play on Tarzan was a waste of an idol considering he didn’t receive a single vote. As I’ve said before though, Dave thinks about this game on multiple levels. He knows Tarzan is the only player there that’s completely loyal to him, & he didn’t want to risk having him taken out like Zach. Playing the idol for Tarzan ultimately saved him from a potential rock draw. Had Tarzan still been vulnerable, things may have gone differently after the second round of voting. But sticking to what actually happened, it’s questionable as to whether or not AK made the right decision in trusting Sharn, something which did come back to haunt him. However, if they had gone to rocks, there was a 75% chance one of the Vakama 3 would be evicted, the odds in Sharn’s favour.

Tuesday’s tribal was more of a pivotal one. First & foremost, Tarzan’s warning to Moana should have alerted her to be cautious of Sharn. However, she put blind faith in Sharn, & whilst it paid off this time, it may just be her downfall. But Sharn’s decision at tribal council that night was the pivotal moment of her game. This was the choice which would decide the remainder of her game. Ultimately, she turned on the Vakama 3, voting for Shonee, rather than blindsiding Dave, the biggest player in this game. It left everyone scratching their heads, wondering what she was thinking. Her reasoning: she was using Dave as a shield. But that can’t be right, because Dave is actually using her as a shield. Yet one thing was clear: That vote ended her game. Here’s why.

Sharn had been talking up a blindside on David. She was ready to send him packing. And when he showed her the idol, she was presented with the opportunity to send him to the Jury Villa with an idol in his pocket once again. Yet when the perfect opportunity for a blindside on the Golden god presented itself, Sharn backed down from the chance, opting instead to vote for Shonee. Sharn had promised the Vakama 3 her loyalty & vote at the previous tribal. This in effect forced her into a position where she had to vote with them, or lose their votes should she make it to Final 2. In voting for Shonee, Sharn has now lost a minimum of three votes should she make F2: Shonee, AK, & Brooke (likely to be the next eliminated). She has also likely lost the votes of Harry, Jacqui & Locky, who were supportive of the Vakama alliance & friends with the Vakama 3 that Sharn betrayed immediately. Whether Sharn gets to F2 is questionable, given even if she makes Final 4, she’ll be sitting at the bottom of the Mokuta 4 alliance. But if you ask me, she’s Dave’s best bet of winning this whole thing.

On the other side of the tribal was Dave. Dave played it brilliantly. Dave knew Sharn questions everything, & that she herself is never really all that certain of where she’s going to land. Some would say showing Sharn the idol was a terrible move. I’d say it worked out perfectly. Knowing Sharn could flip after heeding Tarzan’s warning, Dave knew showing Sharn the idol would make her doubt the move she was about to make & the people she was going to make it with. Reaffirming that he would use the idol if he had to, & that he wasn’t going home at the tribal to follow, Dave affirmed his place in the game. So once they came to the point at tribal where the votes were to be read, Dave figured Sharn would be unwilling to risk voting him out that night, & thus took the risk of not playing his idol, knowing he would catch votes. It paid off, & added another major move to Dave’s resume. If he makes it to F2, & mentions that he had the idol in his pocket & didn’t play it, knowing full well he was catching votes & at risk of going home, that’s sure to gain respect from the jury.

As to the twist that presented itself on Wednesday night’s episode, it was an odd one. At best, AK would remain in the game for one more day, likely to leave at the next tribal council. Otherwise, AK would go home as was going to happen anyway on the votes. What it did put on display, however, was Moana’s fire making ability. Moana was the best choice to ensure AK was eliminated, given she had just made fire recently at the exile challenge. Which made Brooke’s decision to support the unanimous agreement all the stranger. If Brooke had disagreed, it would have forced a rock draw, whereby AK’s competitor may have been easier to beat. Or, Brooke may have been drawn as his competitor, allowing AK to win out. Either way, it seemed AK’s time in the game was coming to a close no matter the outcome.

And just a final point of analysis from this week on Dave. By now, most would have noticed that Dave keeps going back to Sharn, trying to pull her back in every time she flips or tries to flip on his alliance. To any other Survivor fan or viewer, this may seem futile. It would make much more sense to burn someone after they’ve proven disloyal on more than one occasion. Dave was already wary of Sharn after the tribal where the votes fell between Phoebe & Moana. But even when she flipped again, & then made a deal with the Vakama 3 right in front of him, he still went to pull her back in. And even when Dave was presented with the chance to blindside Sharn on Wednesday night, he still didn’t flip on her. After Tuesday night’s episode, it became clear to me as to why Dave, who has been fairly unforgiving to others who have turned on him, would keep Sharn around. And it went back to something he said at Tuesday’s tribal council. He knew who he wanted to take to the end with him, to the Final 2. That person he wants to be sitting next to at the end is Sharn.

 

There are three reasons Dave would want to take Sharn to the end:

  1. Brooke could beat Dave. She has many friends on the jury who would be rooting for her to get to the end & beat Dave. She would garner votes from AK, Shonee, Harry, Locky & Jacqui, enough to win a majority & thereby win the game.
  2. Tarzan & Moana are unpredictable in terms of a final tribal. Moana has made some decent moves throughout the game, & if she could convince the jury she’s been manipulating everyone from the shadows, it could get her the votes. Although, it would be tricky to substantiate that quiet game unless she actually gets her hands dirty. Tarzan also seems easy to beat, however he still has the unique claim of being the only player not to receive a single vote to date, & has played a loyal game with Dave, helping take out some of the other big players. He could play the final tribal like Shane Gould, the quiet achiever way.
  3. Sharn has fallen out of favour with the majority of the Jury. In voting for Shonee, she has guaranteed a loss of votes from Shonee, AK & Brooke. Harry & Locky have also said they want to see big moves & were aligned with the Vakama alliance, & would likely vote for Dave over Sharn. Jacqui was eliminated because of Sharn’s broken promise to the Vakama 3, so would be unlikely to vote for her. And Zach & Tarzan are loyal to Dave. In a Final 2 consisting of David & Sharn, Moana may be the only vote that Sharn gets, leaving Dave with an 8-1 majority & the win.

And just back to that move Dave made in showing Sharn the idol. Putting Sharn off voting for him ensured she would vote for Shonee, & by extension fall completely out of favour with the Jury, making her his ticket to winning this whole game. It just shows again how Dave thinks about this game on all levels, right to the end, & is always three steps ahead of the rest.

Going into what is likely to be the final week, we are left with 5 survivors battling it out for the title of Sole Survivor & the $500,000 prize that goes with it. Here’s a quick rundown of the remaining players & their chances:

Brooke: There’s no doubt Brooke is in the worst position in the tribe. She’s on her own, with no alliance, & a very easy target for the Mokuta 4 to take out. However, if she can win individual immunity, or flip Sharn & Moana, she might be able to find a new path to the end. Personally, I think she’ll be next out.

Moana: One of the quiet players. Moana has the potential to flip on her alliance, particularly Dave, knowing he has the best resume out of the entire alliance by far. But it may prove too late to do so, with Dave still possessing an idol. Her only shot to get rid of him may come from a fire making challenge or at the final immunity challenge.

Tarzan: The loyal quiet achiever. Tarzan’s been loyal to Dave for a long time, & there’s no indication of that changing. If Tarzan wants to win, his best move would be to blindside Dave. Dave wouldn’t expect it coming from him, & it would likely be a game winning move for Tarz. He could yet make the Final 2.

Sharn: The indecisive one. Sharn could really go either way. She claims to be using Dave as a shield, but it’s quite the opposite. Sharn could be an easy flip vote for Brooke, but she could just as easily stick with the Mokuta alliance. Either way, it’s hard to see how she wins it from here. In my analysis, her game is over no matter what happens.

David: The big player. Dave has made the greatest moves this season. He has pulled off some amazing feats, & has only 4 votes to his name. With an idol still in his pocket, he is practically guaranteed Final 4. If he can somehow hold on to that idol (which is rendered powerless after the next tribal), then he has something he can show to the Jury at the Final Tribal which would just add to his already incredible resume. Taking Sharn to the end is his best bet, however he would likely beat Tarzan & Moana as well. Brooke is the only one who can beat him. Taking her out would practically win him the game. Additionally, Dave must win the final immunity challenge. If he doesn’t, he will likely be the final member of the Jury. The only player who may take him to the end is Tarzan.

 

And so, we await the final week. Unfortunately, the Finale will have no live audience due to the coronavirus, something which is disappointing. I would have loved to have attended & seen it play out live for myself, but alas, it’s cannot be. There will also be a change in the hosting, given JLP is still in LA & so will be joining via Skype, while Osher Gunsberg guest MCs from the studio. From what I’ve seen on social media, many of the All Stars castaways are already in Sydney for the Finale, along with a few others from previous seasons, like the King of the Jungle himself, Luke Toki. I’m sure it’ll be an amazing Finale.

And that’s it for another edition of Survivor Strategiser. As the final episodes are upon us, I’ll be doing one of these for each episode next week, to be released the following day. So Monday night’s episode’s analysis will come out on Tuesday, Tuesday night’s on Wednesday & so on & so forth.

Looking forward to next week. If I had to pick a winner, I’d put my money on Dave to take this thing out. One of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

See y’all next week.

 

Survivor Strategiser

Hello & welcome to a new series I’ve decided to start, looking at & analyzing the week that was in Australian Survivor. This year, All Stars has seen some of the most spectacular moments ever seen in Australian Survivor history, & arguably in the game of Survivor itself. And this week has been no different. So, let’s get down to it.

This week began with a tribe of 10, & viewers likely expected to see that whittled down to 7 by the end of Wednesday night’s episode. Yet this show is entirely unpredictable, & a new, never-before-seen twist would change the trajectory of the game. More on that in a moment though.

Monday night’s episode was a heart-wrenching one. As 5 of the tribe members read letters from their families back home, we saw a great mateship between Lee & Tarzan. However, just moments later, Lee received a devastating phone call, & when we all found out what had happened, our hearts all broke for him. It was truly amazing to see the camaraderie between this group of players when they were told what had happened. They all rallied around Lee, this tragic event bringing them all so much closer. And I think it was a blessing that Tarzan was there with him. Tarzan is probably one of the nicest & most genuine guys I’ve seen play this game, & whilst that may not guarantee him the win, it makes him a winner in the hearts of all who have watched this play out. It was unfortunate that Lee had to leave the game when he did, considering he was doing so well this season, however, family always comes first. I think we can all agree that no one ever wants to see someone go out that way, but Lee will always have a place in this game & in the Survivor world. I’d also just like to point out that Lee did not have a single vote cast against him the entire time he was in the game, a true testament to the player that he is. We’ll all miss him & his character in the remainder of the season.

Despite Lee’s departure, the game continued on, with Shonee taking out a second individual immunity win. After deliberations back at camp, with David once again targeting the remaining Vakamas, it appeared AK & Brooke were on the chopping block, & that one of them would be leaving for the Jury Villa that night. Yet nothing is ever a given in the game of Survivor, & JLP still had a twist up his sleeve. And so, after the usual conversations at tribal council, the twist was revealed to all. The three castaways who received the highest numbers of votes at tribal would be sent to exile, awaiting another three the next night. Five would return, one would exit & become the third member of the jury. Personally, I was expecting exile to make a return at some point, but I sure wasn’t expecting this twist. With that on the table, it was clear that AK & Brooke would be going to exile, & so it was just a matter of who the remaining Vakama three would put their votes on to send to exile. As it turned out, that would be Moana. An unsurprising choice given she had put herself in a position of power, & appeared to be heading up the Mokuta alliance. And so ended a tumultuous night.

Tuesday’s episode brought with it a different kind of vibe. With the knowledge that three more tribe members would have to go to exile, the thought of who should go was clearly playing on people’s minds. Shonee was an obvious choice provided she didn’t win immunity again. In the end, Sharn would take out the next immunity challenge, guaranteeing her safety from the clutches of exile, & ultimately putting her in a fairly powerful position of deciding who to send over to exile beach. With Shonee being agreed upon, & Zach volunteering to go thanks to some clever manipulation by David, there was a decision that had to be made as to who should be the third to go. After making a personal appeal to Sharn citing an illness, Dave threw Jacqui’s name out there, putting it to his alliance that she would be the best option considering her range of strengths. But Jacqui didn’t want to go. With that on her mind, Sharn decided to make a play for Dave, yet it didn’t go as planned when Tarzan, being the loyal man that he is, relayed this information to Dave, leaving him with the knowledge that Sharn was trying to blindside him. At this point, one thing was clear: If you come at the king, you best not miss. And so was the case for Sharn. At tribal that night, the twist was revealed in full. Once six people were on exile, there would be two challenges, two chances for players to win their way back into the game. Those who didn’t would be susceptible to a tribal council, in which only they could receive votes. Shonee & Jacqui received enough votes in the first round of voting to go to exile. However, a tie on Zach & Dave with one vote apiece resulted in a second round in which only Sharn & Tarzan could vote. It was uncertain as to whether Sharn would change her vote, yet she did, & Zach was sent to exile as per his wishes, with Dave left knowing he could no longer trust Sharn.

And so, we came to Wednesday night. Within this episode we saw Jacqui beginning to align herself more closely with the Vakama 3, having had enough of being told what to do. Moana also seemed to be tempted by new alliances, so as to have a backup in case things went awry with Dave. The Vakama 3, particularly Shonee, were just doing their best to turn some of the Mokuta people so as to ensure their own safety & progression in the game. Back at camp, Dave knew he had Tarzan on his side, but was questioning Sharn’s loyalties & wondering if he could bring her back in. Come challenge time, the Exile 6 were ready to win back their places in the game. The first challenge brought with it the element of fire making, a key part of this game, with fire representing life. The first two to get their fire to break the string would re-enter the game. It was a true test for these players, who should all have developed this essential skill by now. Moana was first out the gate with her fire, winning her spot back in the game. It ended up being a race between Zach & Brooke in the end, with Brooke ultimately edging Zach by a few seconds. With Moana & Brooke returned, it was now down to a battle of strength, with AK, Shonee, Jacqui & Zach all fighting it out for the one remaining guaranteed spot in the game. After AK & Shonee dropped out, Zach began to struggle, the rope clearly straining against his hands causing a fair bit of pain. In the end, Jacqui won out, earning her spot back in the game, with AK, Shonee, & Zach all susceptible to the tribal council that was to follow.

Back at camp, Shonee & AK were the obvious names brought up for the vote. Dave & his right hand man Zach were fairly confident in their continued alliance & Zach’s safety in the game, with Dave willing to play one of his two idols if they suspected something was up. Jacqui, on the other hand, was done with her alliance, instead opting to play with the Vakama alliance & gun for Zach. Bringing Moana in on the plan, they kept it on the down low, ensuring Dave nor Zach would suspect a thing. And so, at tribal council, Jacqui put her plan into action, successfully blindsiding Zach & sending him to the Jury Villa as the third member of the Jury. It was clear Dave could tell someone had flipped, something we’ll likely see more of in the next episode.

So, let’s do a little bit of analysis. This week’s twist was obviously a major turning point in the game. Up until this point, we had just been seeing the Mokuta 7 picking off the Vakama 5. But with Lee’s departure having already reduced the Mokuta 7 to 6, the twist was the final nail in the coffin for this alliance. What is clear is that Shonee, AK & Brooke are all still tight, & they’ve done a great job of surviving considering they were in a minority. Now, they may have a bit more power, having brought over Jacqui, and having Moana as a possible swing vote. Sharn also may vote with them, considering she’s still playing both sides. That in itself is a dangerous game to play, considering you could end up turning both sets of people against you & having no one else to turn to in such a dire situation. Yet if Sharn is able to effectively continue in this way, it may just get her to the final two. Whether or not it will be enough to outdo David if he should make it to the end however is questionable. Currently, Dave has put together a pretty amazing resume for a jury vote, & going off who is on the jury, he should be able to get the votes to win provided he can play his way to the end. Considering he still possesses two idols, he should at the very least make the 5, but there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll make it to the end.

Endgame is always a crazy yet crucial time in Survivor. Alliances that have endured for lengthy periods are broken, & new, short term alliances form. Everyone’s mind is on getting through the next tribal, progressing in the game, & ultimately, reaching the end. Obviously, this is the key time to win immunity if you’re seen as an immediate threat. There are clearly some big players in this game, the major one being the golden god, Dave himself. In some sense, it’s odd that Dave hasn’t had many votes cast against him considering how good he is at playing the game, & the big moves he’s made. In fact, he’s only received one vote to date, that being the one from Sharn this week. Yet at the same time, this shows just how well he’s thought this whole thing out. Dave is always three steps ahead of the rest. He thinks about the game on all levels. He considers the relationships between other players, as well as the relationships he has with them. He thinks about the numbers. He considers how other people are thinking, & how their way of thinking could impact his game. He positions other people in front of himself as shields, & as we’ve borne witness to thus far, it’s worked out well for him, as they have been targeted ahead of him. And this week, we saw him contemplating the impact of the exile twist & thinking about how alliances could change due to relationships formed on Exile Beach. Sure, he didn’t get the drop on the Zach vote (which, you’d have to admit, there was a sweet irony to given he had voluntarily gone to exile, confident that he’d return), but Dave can easily work out who turned on the alliance, & oust them the first opportunity he gets.

You also have to give it to Shonee, she’s playing a brilliant social game. Her ability to adapt to the situation at hand & keep it from ending her game has been great to watch. She’s managed to play from the bottom for much of this game, & as a result, has now gained power after turning Jacqui on her alliance. She’s also won herself two of the four individual immunity challenges thus far, which is no mean feat. It would be interesting to see her at the end with Dave.

Since the tribal after Lydia & Phoebe went to the fire challenge, I’ve been predicting who would go at each tribal. I’ve been right every time thus far, correctly predicting every boot since & including John’s. That’s John, Mat, Phoebe, Flick, Nick, Locky, Harry, & Zach, for a total of 8 from 8 since then. I also had figured Lee would be the one pulled from the game, considering I saw his social media post about his Mum’s tragic passing after he returned from the game. And so, if you were to ask me, I’d say Jacqui’s game is about to end. I’d also say Dave, Brooke & Shonee are pretty much guaranteed to make the 5. Dave has shown he can play his way there, & Shonee’s social game will no doubt get her there. Brooke will also be able to position herself away from the vote, as the Mokuta alliance will be too busy fighting each other, & when it comes to eliminating any former Vakamas, AK will likely be the first to be targeted. I’m also fairly confident Sharn will make the 5 considering her ability to play both sides effectively. As to the 5th tribemate to make it, I’m not certain, but I’m thinking it’ll either be Tarzan or Moana. It really comes down to whether Tarzan’s time as being a number comes to an end, or if Moana is targeted before that.

I think we can all agree this has been a hell of a week in Australian Survivor, & while we look forward to another week to come, our hearts are still with Lee & his family. And so, as an end to this edition of Survivor Strategiser (not sure if I’m happy with that name yet), I’d like to link Lee’s fundraising page for the Stroke Foundation so that you can get behind Lee & make a donation if you’d like to (he’s giving away 5 buffs to the top 5 donations as a bit of an incentive):

https://www.towelchallenge.org.au/fundraiser/leecarseldine

It’s truly inspirational to see the Survivor community, the Survivor family, rallying around Lee & his family. Lee, you were one of the greats in this game, & I reckon you could’ve gone all the way. Well done mate, & all the very best to you & your family. God Bless you all.

 

 

Year In Review: Personal

2019 is fast coming to an end, & with the end of another year, the end of a decade in fact, comes reflection of how we’ve lived our lives thus far. This piece serves as my own personal reflection of the year that was, the lessons I’ve learnt, and everything in between.

This year has been different to years previous. I’ve experienced a lot that I never really expected, and, to say the least, I’ve grown as a person. It’s come with it’s fair share of challenges, that’s for sure. I’ve had to deal with things that I didn’t see coming, things that were completely unpredictable in nature. But with the bad came the good, & the happy moments shone through when they were needed.

I started 2019 off in a good place. Up in Noosa with family, celebrating the New Year, going on adventures to Ipswich & Australia Zoo, seeing some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, becoming obsessed with meerkats, reacquainting myself with some of the cutest otters I’ve ever seen in my life, & seeing some spectacular sights. All the while, I was pondering things, considering the year ahead, considering decisions I would have to make, doing all the regular thinking & more. And whilst I may not have realised it at the time, the stay in Noosa would be one of the better parts of my year. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent up there, & I’m hoping to go back soon. My first times on an airplane were pretty cool too.

Mentally, I was in a decent place. I’d been in pretty good condition mentally for years, with no real issues since a battle with anxiety back in 2012, something I thought was a one-off. Maybe that was why things caught me completely off-guard.

A few weeks after arriving back from Noosa, I faced my first challenge of the year. By the time February hit, a number of things happened that led to a major mental break. Mind barriers were broken, & the anxiety flooded my mind & body. Ultimately, a battle began, a battle between myself & my mind. It was something completely unexpected. Of course, I knew there was some degree of risk with things coming up in the year, I just didn’t expect them to awaken what must have lain dormant within me for years.

A number of you would have read my article from earlier this year detailing my battle with anxiety, something which can never be underestimated. Briefly, things escalated over a matter of weeks. I was mentally off-kilter, & felt physically unwell. After about a month, I finally decided to get some professional help, seeing a counsellor/psychologist, who was extremely helpful.

The next big event in my life was starting university. The process of simply enrolling was stressful enough to begin with. Having attempted to get in to a different major area for my degree at UTS (University of Technology Sydney), going from Creative Writing to Journalism, with no success online & over the phone on multiple occasions, I travelled to the Student Centre, talked to multiple people, & found a major flaw in the university system (the first of many). I enrolled in the necessary subjects for the Creative Writing course, & prepared for study once again. Yet it was not to last long at all.

After a single day at UTS, I knew something was wrong. Sure, it wasn’t a great day for me personally on a mental level, being alone at a new place, experiencing amplified anxiety levels for most of the day, doing all I could to keep the symptoms at bay. But coming home on the train that night, I knew I wasn’t doing the right thing for me. And that was when it clicked. I needed to do something for me, not for other people. It didn’t matter if others found it to be unconventional, it just had to be right for me. Whilst I’ve never been a quitter, I knew this degree, this university, was going to be toxic for me. So after one day, I quit.

Having come home & relayed my feelings to my immediate family, I felt lost. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I made contact with some people, some friends, & did some research. I eventually came across an amazing university degree run by Griffith University through Open Universities Australia, an online uni degree. Yet I knew that it would not appease everyone, considering it was not a physical university. The added pressure of that was something that weighed heavily on my mind, a similarity in many of the decisions I’ve made throughout this year. However, I chose to go ahead with the degree, & thus enrolled. I’d made a decision, a big decision, something I hadn’t really done before.

Around mid-March, in fact, right after I made the decision to withdraw from UTS, I made another decision that would really change my life for the better. For context, in late 2018, I had taken on a temporary role as a Special Religious Education (SRE) helper, assisting for a Year 6 class. It was a highly rewarding experience, & while I wanted so much to continue on in 2019, I ultimately knew that my university degree would make that difficult. This probably had some impact on the decision I would ultimately make to quit my degree & change things up.

I should say at this point, before I continue on, that there were a number of reasons that factored into my leaving UTS. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. Being able to go back to SRE was a mid-range factor, as it was something I was passionate about. The content of the degree itself was also a factor, as well as the culture of the university in being quite the opposite to my own political views. That’s not to say that I withdrew because I couldn’t deal with opposing views. It was more to the point that I felt like I was putting myself in a space where I was going to be suppressed for three years, a place where if I spoke to my values and political opinions, or challenged the ones being put forth by lecturers & tutors, I would find myself being penalized simply for having a different set of views, a free speech issue. I thought about this, & I knew I couldn’t do that to myself. It should also be said that, whilst I could express those views online & through my blog, the university lecturers & tutors had said they were going to be checking the social media of students, something which I personally saw as completely unprofessional & unnecessary. The purpose of such a scheme could only be to find out the personal views of each student so as to categorize them into the political spectrum, something I find truly appalling. I will write more to this in a separate article, however I felt it fit here. To some degree, this whole keeping quiet thing stirred my anxiety, something which also led to my leaving UTS. That’s not to say that I still haven’t experienced similar occurrences online with Griffith. In fact, a recent assessment marking of mine, an assessment that I worked extremely hard on, came back to me with some fairly unfavourable feedback, which seemed to be politically motivated. As I said previously however, I’ll speak more to this in an upcoming article.

Back to SRE now. In mid-March, I made the decision to rejoin the SRE program in a permanent position. I became an assistant to a Year 5 class, who I ended up having the great pleasure of taking for around 6-7 weeks while their teacher was away on holiday. It was truly an amazing & extremely rewarding experience. Whilst it was nerve-wracking at first, as I got to know the students, I began to establish a real spiritual connection with them. Seeing them learn & understand more & more each week, building their relationship with God, was incredibly special. Throughout the year, up until the end of Term 3, I watched the students progress, & there was always a smile on my face when I was in the classroom with them. They were a joy to teach, & I couldn’t be more grateful for the time I had with them this year.

In Term 4, I got a promotion of sorts (well, not really, but a level up perhaps). After another SRE had to take time off, I was asked to take their Year 6 class for the term, an offer which I immediately accepted. It was incredibly daunting going in to take over a class who had been set with one teacher throughout the year, & I found it challenging at the best of times. The students, however, were amazing in the way that they guided me through how their lessons were usually run, & by the time we were a few weeks in, I was once again amazed to see how dedicated some of them were to building their relationship with God. While I had my fair share of challenging moments with some students, time flew by, & I felt blessed to have been a part of the spiritual journey of these students.

Alongside being an SRE, I completed a Level 1 Training Course, a requirement for becoming a full time SRE. This was a valuable learning experience, & something I was again truly grateful to be a part of. I met some wonderful people whilst participating in the course, we shared our experiences with each other, & we all grew in our faith & as SREs. I completed the course in November, & am now qualified to take my own class, something that I am looking forward to doing in the new year.

This year also brought with it it’s fair share of fun & friendship. I kept up to date with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, & saw the final instalment of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy (if you’re not familiar, that’s Unbreakable, Split, &, most recently, Glass). I also spent days out with friends, & went to a number of family gatherings, which are always a blast. I also got to see my Aunt & cousins who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, & hung out with them for a few days, which was a highlight. I also got into new seasons of all my favourite television shows, but I also found a new love: The Office (the US version). This show became my all time favourite television series within the first few episodes. After watching all nine seasons through, plus highlight & blooper reels on YouTube, I watched it again with my brother. And trust me, it never loses its charm nor humour no matter how many times you watch it. The cold opens are fantastic. I’ve watched some scenes so many times, I’ve memorised the lines. And some of the catchphrases the characters use have also become a part of my own repertoire. It’s a fantastic show, & I’d highly recommend it. I’ll for sure watch it again.

Sporting matches were also in, this year’s feature being the NRL Grand Final, an event I never thought I’d go to. More on that in a moment.

Music also continued to play a major role in my life. I stuck by my favourite group by far, OneRepublic, listening to their new music as soon as it dropped. Other artists also made their way into my life, likely due to different moods & various goings-on. I got hooked on the music of Charlie Puth (an amazing musician, who also happens to have perfect pitch). And at various points in the year, there were appearances by Andy Grammer, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, Kygo, 5 Seconds of Summer & Guy Sebastian among others. I also continued to play music, playing piano & learning guitar, in addition to experimenting with producing music on my laptop. I’ve also recently purchased a microphone, something I’m planning on using to both record music & a podcast. Keep an eye & ear out for that next year.

Seeing as I love music so much, it stands to reason the highlight of my year would be music related. For around ten years now, basically since the beginning of the decade, I’ve been listening to the music of OneRepublic. More so since I was in Year 7, I began to follow OneRepublic & their front-man Ryan Tedder more closely. Ryan Tedder is likely my greatest musical influence, & one of the reasons I got into music. Their music has accompanied me through many times, good & not so great. For years now, I’ve dreamt of seeing them perform live, & meeting them, moreover Ryan Tedder, in person. So when OneRepublic announced this year that they were coming to Australia to perform at the NRL Grand Final, I jumped at the opportunity. Seeing them live, even for just fifteen minutes, was amazing. Although I’d really like to see them perform live at their own show, & I’m hoping they’ll be coming back to Sydney in the next couple of years, so that this time I can actually meet them.

Study has taken up a large portion of my year throughout this year, having been studying with no major breaks since the end of May. So far, I’ve completed four subjects, with another two underway currently. Thus far, I’m enjoying the degree, although there have been some setbacks over the last few months in particular which resulted in an immense amount of stress. Ultimately, this stress unfortunately resulted in a lapse of control over my anxiety, & so it’s returned. It’s something that has begun to impact on my life yet again, something which I hope to regain control over in the coming months.

I also had the privilege of going on a few holidays this year. The first was the one I’ve already mentioned, going up to Noosa. The other holiday was a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Pacific & New Zealand. This cruise was a good experience. It was nice to be able to spend time with family, particularly those I only get to see every now & then. The entertainment was good on some occasions, although it was a little underwhelming on others. Of the destinations, New Zealand’s Bay of Islands was by far the most beautiful. The food was also amazing, as were the waiters who served it to us each day & night. It was a true privilege to get to know these hard workers over the duration of the cruise. They made it all the more special. Whilst it was a good cruise, having the anxiety return did make it a little difficult for me at times, particularly in mornings. Overall though it was a really fun experience.

Looking back on this year, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I’ve discovered my limits, but also my strengths. I’ve found that whilst you may hope for one thing, life will throw you a curveball & take you in a different direction. Personally, I’m grateful for not only the good moments this year has brought, but also the not so great moments. Because these moments show you things about yourself that you never realised. These are the times that truly bring your humanity to the surface, times of self-discovery. At the times when I was at my lowest this year, I took comfort in those who were there to support me. I’m so grateful to have those people in my life, because not only did they help me through my struggles this year, they also guided me on my journey of self-discovery.

There were moments this year when I was lost. There were times when I thought everything in my life was going wrong, & that nothing would ever go right. But certain people helped me to realise that there was still hope in my future. Hope is what kept me going, what got be back on my feet, & what inspired me to continue to share my stories.

Whilst 2019 hasn’t exactly been the most spectacular year, it’s been an experience that I likely needed. In some sense, I’m thankful to have gone through an experience that has changed me for the better. And I’m glad to have a platform to be able to share my thoughts & experiences with others, so that we can all be inspired to continue to have hope.

So, here’s to 2019: a year of learning, a year of growth, a year of self-discovery, a year of hope.

Cheers for a great year on the blog!

JJ