‘Survivor’ Star Karishma Patel Dishes on Feeling Worthless, Claims She Was Bullied

Survivor is not an easy game. Contestants are placed on an island with minimal food and required to undergo grueling physical challenges with the slim hope of earning $1,000,000 at the end of the show. But there’s also a social aspect to the game. 

Contestants need to scheme, plot, and engage in subterfuge. They need to know how to endear themselves to the right people at the right time in order to build a path to the final tribal council. They have to know how to win jury votes, and that can mean taking big risks. That social aspect is not easy for everyone, and Survivor contestant Karishma Patel knows that firsthand.

Opening up about her marriage

Karishma Patel
Karishma Patel | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Throughout her tenure on Survivor: Island of the Idols, Karishma Patel has frequently discussed her marriage. She talked lovingly of her spouse many times, often sounding wistful, wishing he was there. 

There were also times when she discussed aspects of her relationship she might wish to improve upon or change. During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Patel opened up about her marriage and how Survivor helped her reflect. 

“I got married pretty quickly of my own volition. It was my own decision and very happily made that decision,” explained Patel. “But you know, you get that five-year itch where you think, ‘Well, you know, let me take a step back, let me evaluate everything in my life through a lens.’ And what the game taught me is that: Okay, this was absolutely the best decision I ever made, to marry this man, be it after two months of dating or two years of dating. I got lucky and I was blessed to have been introduced to somebody like him who will never ever let me fall, who will always support me, who let me go on this journey. Gosh, who let me leave for like two months to go out and live a dream like this!”

Patel went on to add, “And so I was able to come home with this amazing perspective. And I do want to mention something really important and it’s really cool. Day 1 we were on Lairo and we were weaving palm fronds and Elaine said something to me that I have always remembered where she said, ‘Karishma, not everybody is gonna love you the way you want to be loved, but it’s still love.’ And my gosh, if I haven’t carried that sentence with me because it is the truth.”

Karishma Patel felt worthless

Karishma Patel, Ronnie Bardah, Elaine Stott , Aaron Meredith and Chelsea Walker
Karishma Patel, Ronnie Bardah, Elaine Stott , Aaron Meredith and Chelsea Walker | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

While Karishma Patel did have moments of introspection and understanding during her time on Survivor, it’s clear that she also often felt on the outs. In fact, Patel says there were times when she felt worthless. 

Patel told EW, “I felt feelings of being unwanted and being unliked. Obviously, I felt unliked before, but this was just beyond anything I’d ever experienced. …  Because unfortunately when you’re kind of treated as worthless at times and you’re living in that vortex…. I hate to admit it, and I’m just going to admit it now to you — I’m going to say it out loud for the first time — I had moments where I started to believe it too.”

“It’s a painful thing to admit, but there were the low times where I just felt unlovable and worthless and just, I must be this horrible, horrible person because look at the way everyone’s viewing me and treating me. And that was a tough pill to swallow,” added Patel.

Karishma Patel says she was bullied

While it sounds as if Karishma Patel was able to find a way to channel those negative feelings into motivation, she also claims she was bullied at camp. 

“I will say this: I feel I was absolutely ostracized out there to a certain extent, and bullying can come in various degrees. So I did feel bullied,” said Patel. She added, “But in the game, it started off more subtly with little things like when I hurt myself and I didn’t feel any of the compassion that I would normally expect. Maybe that was wrong of me to expect that in a cutthroat game like Survivor. But that felt like bullying to me.”

Patel added, “That felt like a group of people coming together to put somebody else down or make somebody else feel bad. And then little by little it would escalate. And after the merge, it just took on another life in and of itself. And that’s what I think a lot of other castmates agree that it turned into this whole concept where maybe insulting Karishma outright was just the norm.”