For 33 grueling days on Survivor, Alexis Jones showed the world what it means to be a Texan.
By Alexis Jones, Photo by Paige Newton
Growing up with a grandfather who was a Texas state district judge, a grandmother who won “Austin’s Most Worthy citizen,” both having graduated from The University of Texas, along with my parents, brother and husband; you can see how deeply embedded Austin is in every cell of my body.
I am a rebel by nature.
I left Texas when I was a teenager to attend the University of Southern California. (My parents haven’t forgiven me yet.) It was only a matter of time before someone said, “You aren’t from here, are you?” There has always been an invisible pride I had that even if I were far from home, home was always palpably within me. I’d grin ear to ear and say, “You’re right, I’m a Texan.” Maybe that is the greatest impact Austin has had on me. It’s not just a place. It has always been an identity for me.
When I think of home, I think of visiting my Uncle Harris at the state school, where the chapel is named after my grandmother. I think of late-night runs to Kerbey Lane. Feeding the homeless at our church (UUMC) on the UT campus. Getting out of high school on those hot May days and heading straight to Barton Springs with my friends. While there are endless memories sprinkled throughout the city that has once again become my home, it was and will always be the people who make it so special. My family, my best friends, Mrs. Reese who taught me I had something deep inside me that was special. And the countless people who have poured into me, making me a self-proclaimed billionaire in love. It was this jet fuel that served me best in one of the greatest adventures of my life.
When I got cast as the sweet, strong Southern belle on Survivor,
it was the Texan in me that they fell in love with and the juxtaposition that women in Texas have the luxury of possessing—being kind and brave, funny and smart, feminine and cunning. In spite of my adventure-junky nature, my love for jumping out of airplanes, hiking to the base camp of Mt. Everest and other monstrous mountains around the world, it wasn’t my physical game or my indelible work ethic that had me last 33 of the 39 days. It was the love I knew awaited me back home that kept me going.
Being on that island in Micronesia (Season 16), getting attacked by rats and insects the minute the sun went down, breaking my hand on the first challenge, macheting my left foot on day nineteen, blowing out my knee on day 31 mand being stung by scorpions not one, but three different times in addition to losing 31 pounds…You learn very quickly what you are made of. In that jungle I showed the world on national television what it meant to be a Texan.
We get knocked down, we always get back up.
We don’t quit. Ever. Survivor taught me I had a sixth gear I didn’t even know was possible. Flying back, waiting to see my family in that Austin airport made everything worth it. Because I was home. A stronger, braver version of myself looking for the next challenge and believing that on the other side of that challenge, anything was possible.