'Survivor' Castaway Desiree Afuye on How Homelessness Provided a 'Foundation' for Her Gameplay (Exclusive)

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CBS

Desiree Afuye already knew how to survive. 

The 21-year-old was sent packing on Wednesday's episode ofSurvivor: Ghost Island, following an explosive episode documenting her big move gone wrong -- and revealing her past struggles with homelessness. 

"I think going through my experience outside of Survivor, and then being on Survivor, just helped me get through it," she told ET over the phone on Thursday. "Like, it helped me be like, 'OK, well, this is something that you can't complain about.'"

"'You've had nothing before,'" she continued. "It gave me a foundation to stand on whenever I needed to get myself through the game."

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CBS

Desiree didn't make it to the end, after attempting to make a big move against the stronger members of her tribe by working with the four remaining members of Malolo: Michael, Jenna, Donathan and Laurel, who turned on Desiree and told Naviti about the plan. Desiree tried to lie her way back into Naviti's good graces, but to no avail -- and she said her only regret is not trying harder to make it stick. 

"I liked the way I went out," she confessed. "My only regret is not trying to go through with it." 

"I think after the plan blew up, I was like, 'OK, well, that plan is over,' when it really didn't have to be. It could have blew up, and I still could have executed it and still got Laurel on board and tried to persuade her, or try to persuade the rest of the people to still be on board," she explained. "I see the background story on why Laurel did what she did... [but] I figured I had the numbers right then and there, and waiting would only give Dom and Wendell and Kellyn more power... Like, it would be the perfect move." 

Still, Desiree hopes her 27 days on the show can inspire others, and help them overcome homelessness. 

"I definitely hope that in sharing my story, people are inspired. You know, if there's anyone who shouldn't be on Survivor, it's the black, blonde homeless girl. If there's anybody who wasn't supposed to be on there, it would be me," she said with a laugh. "But even somebody like me can do something like that, and get very far in the game. And I just hope people see my story and they're inspired by it and they use that as sort of a different perspective."

"My favorite thing about heading out there was the fact that it was a huge risk. Like, I'm blindly doing something and I'm just going to give it my all. And getting that thrill from it makes me want to do that in outside life," she expressed. "I'm finding things in life now that kind of scares me, but it will be really cool to do, and if I get through it, it will totally benefit me. That's what I'm using throughout life right now."

Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. 

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