On April 13th, 2015, The Daily Princetonian reported that more and more students were requesting to view their admissions files. I was one of them. Six weeks after submitting a request, I was summoned for a session during which I would be given pen and paper in case I wanted to jot down notes from my file in a closet-sized room. I came in. They said, "you have an hour," and then took my phone. 

It probably doesn't seem crazy anymore that people regularly judge others based on a thin catalogue of personal factoids. We do it every time we swipe left on Tinder. Who'd have thought love would one day be served on a conveyor belt. But this wasn't some potential only-lives-0.4-miles-away-loves-to-power-lift-looking-to-netflix-and-chill-or-you-know-have-a-serious-relationship-if-you're-not-down-for-that-insert-cheeky-emoticon-here date that was hanging in the balance. It was my future and what others thought that future might be. 

I was hoping for fireworks but it seemed they thought there was nothing extraordinary about my file. No exclamation marks or gold stars. Just a checkmark to say This applicant might survive. Probably. Perhaps. Well, let's see where this goes. Worst comes to worst, we can hit her up in a decade or so for a donation to the alumni endowment. Apparently, I wasn't the unicorn of applicants.

But page 5 got a little more interesting. I had turned in a music submission with the rest of the application and it was here on page 5 that they decided to comment on it. It had been a 4 minute tape with two-plus mistakes, all of which were definitely noticeable. On page 5, the comment read as follows:

"she's wobbly, but gutsy." 

Turns out, I didn't need the pen and I didn't need the paper that day.

I didn't leave feeling particularly gratified nor insulted.

I just left. 

It's been almost two years and a graduation later and I find myself no less wobbly than I had been before I pursued my degrees of higher education to arrive at a career in public health/human rights journalism. This trail has had many a misstep, logged for your pleasure: 

  1. I've been mugged at a techno festival abroad. 
  2. I've lost friends during subway transfers. 
  3. I've broken 2 iPhones and I've cracked a camera.
  4. I've sprained an ankle falling off a bed that wasn't raised or a bunk. 
  5. I've been in too many failed relationships to count.
  6. and perhaps, most perplexingly, I still have no idea where I left my Ray Bans. 

But I'd like to think I've always been gutsy too -- like falling headfirst into Latin social dancing, fiddling with amateur ukulele playing, taking the chance to travel literally everywhere, messing around with photography, playing my hand at cooking and throwing myself shamelessly at all the great-big-bursting-metropolis of New York City has to offer. 

That's where it comes to this: the prism light.  

I figure, at some point in his life, Ray Bradbury was standing somewhere in the world next to some person who happened to have a pen when something was happening that necessitated him to say something in response. And in knowing that something had to be said and that he had to do it, he turned to the person with the pen, "Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light -- white hot, on paper." 

I find myself contextually lost and like me, I imagine you can't figure out what in fresh hell he was trying to say either, but maybe all he really meant to say was, 

what's life but a little bit of wobbly and a whole lot of gutsy? 

That's it, sweetie -- go ahead and dive. 

I don't know about you, but I'm not about to say no to Ray. 


Photo credits to Brett Amadon 2016. 

the prism light is the written portfolio of New York-based journalist and former public health researcher Isabella Gomes.

At 22, Isabella - a Canada-bred, SoCal-stirred, Jersey-weathered new New Yorker - is now pursuing a Master's degree in public health, social welfare and human rights journalism at the Columbia Journalism School. 

If she's not banging her head against a wall of writer's block or complaining about the lack of A/C in her apartment, she can be found at Solas trying not to step on other people's feet. 


All photos on this site were taken by Isabella Gomes during her travels and related escapades as part of ©the prism light tour, unless indicated otherwise.