By Kathy Wang
“Criminal Minds” taught me how to profile, and I apply my knowledge by taking on the challenge of profiling myself.
My computer screen blinks back innocently, but I wag an accusing finger at it– don’t start–as if the blank page staring back at me was the document’s fault and not mine. My shoulders slump. “Criminal Minds” made it look so easy, but how on earth am I supposed to profile this Kathy?
I adore the way in which suspects are profiled in “Criminal Minds.” After watching a riveting episode, I sometimes wonder if I should write profiles to express my own thoughts.
Three years ago, I would’ve profiled myself as a loser.
Kathy bounces her leg when she’s nervous. There’s a specific pattern to it—it goes one, up, two, down, tap the floor twice, tap-tap, rest on the fifth beat, then rinse and repeat. This pattern is ruined when she’s especially nervous, and she’s especially nervous during blood tests, exams, and dinnertime.
Dinnertime in an Asian household meant talking about grades, cousins, and grades some more. There’s a specific saying in the Chinese language, “bierenjiadehaizi,” which translates to “someone else’s child” being more successful than you. Friendly competition was encouraged in Kathy’s household, as her parents believed it would better her sister and herself. But she dreaded that talk after coming home from a school with more than six thousand students, where she was constantly afraid of being overshadowed. So she overcompensated.
Her teeth chattered during exams and legs followed suit, bouncing sky-high. She tried balancing new jobs, leadership classes, and more clubs year after year, sacrificing her love for books. Her diary went untouched for weeks. Criminal Minds sat in the background as she tore out her hair over trigonometry homework; when she cooked, everything tasted like dry sawdust. She ate no longer for her love of food, but to satiate the growing emptiness inside of her.
Kathy couldn’t get rid of her leg-bouncing habit. Around this time, she often avoided looking in the mirror, trying not to notice her sunken cheeks, sickly pallor, and protruding collarbones. Her hair fell out in bunches from stress and lack of a healthy diet. She dozed through her classes, running on a few measly hours of sleep, and would then punish herself for it by staying up longer to obsess over the slightest dip in her grades.
It dawned on me that I needed to find balance in my life. Instead of doing homework one night, I watched “Criminal Minds.” It provided the breather that I needed, and slowly but surely, I began tapping into other art forms that would bring me similar joy. I revisited “bossy cheeks” Mercy from Outrun the Moon one day, and fiery-spirited Anne from Anne of Green Gables the next. These clever, smart, and strong heroines reminded me that I was strong and unique in my fierce pursuit for knowledge and happiness.
Happiness came to me unexpectedly again through film and photography. In the beginning, I mostly documented my cooking fails so I could look back and laugh, but soon, the daily shenanigans of my friends and family took a starring role over the vlogs about my life. Making space in my life for passion and contentment allowed me to feel reborn.
Over time, I decided to revise my previous profile.
Kathy realized that there was more to life than beating herself down for not being perfect. She grew braver, emboldened by the knowledge that grades didn’t define her. Her identity as a reader, a writer, and an amateur filmmaker strengthened her relationship with friends and family even more. She realized that she could capture her happiness through the balance of different mediums.
Her leg-bouncing habit remains during blood tests, exams, and dinnertime. But these days, it only goes one-down, two-up, tap-tap, and rest.
I’d profile Kathy now as a lover. Still looking for new and more things to love.
I’ve always been an avid fan of “Criminal Minds’ (and Spencer Reid) so I knew I had to include such an integral part of my identity when brainstorming for my personal statement! “Profiling Kathy” describes how “Criminal Minds” and other art forms got me through a difficult period of my life. I touch on hardships I went through that many others might’ve gone through as well, but the important part is that this piece highlights the fact that I am still a growing person, and I will always have more room for growth. I hope I will constantly strive to be a happier version of myself.
Kathy Wang is a passionate and loving idealist. She romanticizes staying home to write during snowy weather. She loves hot chocolate, strawberry croissants and a good historical romance.