What Makes You Extraordinary: A Letter to Kate Beckett

This is the latest in my collection of letters to female characters who’ve inspired me throughout my life as a fangirl. If you have a character you’d like to write a letter to, click here for details about The Fan Mail Project—you have two weeks left to get your letters written!

Dreamworld

Source: Tumblr.com

Dear Beckett,

I’ve tried to start this letter no less than 10 times in 10 different ways. In fact, I’m sitting right now with tear tracks on my face because I’ve been trying to come up with the perfect way to start this letter for the last hour, and nothing’s felt right. I want this letter to be perfect because you mean so much to me. I want it to be the best letter I write for this project that was inspired in no small way by the impact you’ve had on my life.

But the start of this letter doesn’t have to be perfect—none of it has to be perfect. Because the biggest lesson you’ve taught me is that it’s okay to be imperfect; it’s okay to struggle, and it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling. Your story taught me to take the parts of myself that I see as weaknesses and make them strengths, to acknowledge that my imperfections and flaws are a part of me, and to use that acknowledgement to grow into a better and stronger version of myself. So if this tribute is flawed, that doesn’t mean it’s without value. You taught me that, and that lesson changed my life.

We’ve been on a long journey together, Beckett. I’ve watched Castle since the pilot episode, and I’ve admired your character just as long. From the start, I loved your confidence and competence, your inability to suffer fools, your hair, and your coat collection. You were the reason I bought my first pair of stilettos and my first trench coat. It was your picture I brought to the salon when I decided to get red highlights in my hair. And, thanks to you, I hardly ever go to Starbucks without ordering a skinny vanilla latte.

But something changed during Season Four of Castle. Your story became the story. You’d always been a hero, but the narrative was suddenly laser-focused on you becoming your own hero. And that story helped me reclaim my story. It helped me see myself as a protagonist and not just a supporting player in other people’s stories. In becoming your own hero, you taught me how to become my own hero.

Season Four of Castle aired during a difficult time in my life. I was anxious more often than not about the direction my life was going in. I didn’t love the work I was doing at my job. I felt insecure about my appearance. And I was completely convinced that I would never be truly happy until I was in a romantic relationship. In fact, I was completely convinced that I would never be truly happy at all. I’m a perfectionist, and, at that time, I believed that meant being miserable if there were aspects of myself and my life I considered imperfect. I didn’t think I deserved to be content with an imperfect life. I didn’t think I deserved to be happy.

And then “Kill Shot” happened.

That episode was nothing like I expected it to be. As you struggled with your PTSD, Castle wasn’t there every step of the way, acting as your knight in shining armor. You didn’t decide to work on your deeper emotional issues in therapy because you wanted to be worthy of his love or because you thought he deserved the best version of you. You spent most of the episode alone—or with Esposito, a friend who understood and related to your struggle in a way Castle couldn’t. And when you decided to open up to your therapist, it was because you wanted to do it for yourself. You wanted to be a better version of you not because Castle deserved it but because you deserved it. Yes, you knew that getting help would hopefully allow you to be ready to have the kind of relationship you wanted with the man you loved, but that was just part of the story. You weren’t just a character written to love and be loved by the male lead. You were a character written to fight her own battles.

You thought that you wouldn’t be whole until you got justice for your mother. You thought you couldn’t be truly content until you put the man who killed her behind bars. But what you came to discover was that Castle was right when he said that you deserved to be happy but you were afraid. You were keeping yourself from happiness because you believed you were damaged goods. But at the end of “Kill Shot,” you decided to take Esposito’s words to heart and to start accepting yourself as you were but also acknowledging that you have the potential to be more.

“I want to be more than who I am.”

Those words have stuck with me for years. They remind me that I have the potential to be more than my flaws, more than my anxieties, and more than my insecurities—that they don’t have to define me or direct the outcome of my life. They remind me that I have the power to take control of my story. And they remind me that it’s never too late to change for the better because I want to—not because someone else tells me I should.

By the end of that season, you finally discovered what it meant to be more than who you were. And it didn’t mean checking off all the things you believed you needed to accomplish before you could let yourself be loved. Instead, it meant becoming more willing to believe you were enough exactly as you were. And it meant becoming more open to the possibility that you wouldn’t be letting anyone down by choosing your own happiness.

When you stopped chasing dangerous leads in your mother’s case and, instead, let your heart lead you to Castle’s doorstep, you made me believe it was okay to feel good about myself and my life even though I hadn’t achieved everything I’d planned on achieving yet. And that was something I’d never felt before.

I’m still a perfectionist, and there are still times when I beat myself up over not having accomplished all the things I want to do yet. But I’m happy. And I’d be lying if I said you had nothing to do with that. You taught me that I deserve happiness no matter what I’ve done with my life. You taught me that I don’t have to be miserable to be driven. In fact, you finally accomplished getting justice for your mother long after you stopped letting that case all but destroy your life. You were able to accomplish more working from a place of peace and self-acceptance than you were ever able to accomplish before. And that’s inspired me to work toward peace and self-acceptance in my own life.

There are a billion other things I could also thank you for. Thank you for being a nerd—for loving science fiction and soap operas with intense emotional attachment, defying every stereotype of how a “nerdy girl” should look and act. Thank you for making me feel like it was good to be complex and that it was okay to have layers I’m not comfortable sharing with everyone right away. Thank you for making mistakes and falling back into old habits, because it makes me feel like it’s okay to struggle sometimes with being the best version of myself.

Thank you for always being more than just a pretty face, but also, thank you for reinforcing the idea that you can be feminine and strong without having to give up one or the other. Thank you for always being more than just a love interest, but also, thank you for reinforcing the idea that loving someone and letting them love you doesn’t make you weak.

But most of all, thank you for helping me believe that being imperfect and being truly happy aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. That’s an extraordinary lesson, and I’m incredibly grateful that I learned it from such an extraordinary character.

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37 thoughts on “What Makes You Extraordinary: A Letter to Kate Beckett

  1. *hugs you forever*

    This is perfect, Katie. I’m so proud of you for being able to be so vulnerable and open in this and I’m especially proud of you because you’re right – you are happier now and more comfortable with embracing every aspect of yourself. I love the impact Kill Shot had on you when it aired and I love the impact it still has on you now. This is an extraordinary letter to an extraordinary character and I can’t thank you enough for introducing me to her and for letting me love the woman she’s made you.

    • *hugs you back forever*

      Thank you. Thank you for saying such kind things. Thank you for being there for me every moment—from the day Kill Shot aired and I wrote on my LiveJournal about what it awakened in me to the day I wrote this letter and needed to talk my way out of my writer’s block and anxiety with someone who understands. Sharing my love for Beckett with you helped our friendship bloom in its early days, and that’s another one of the many reasons this character will always have a special spot in my heart.

  2. Katie, this is such a vulnerable and touching letter. I relate to so much of what you struggle with. And I’ve often related to Beckett and her difficulty opening up and revealing her many layers. I’m so glad she had such a deep and positive impact on your life. And kudos to you for pushing yourself to write this letter, even though it was the hardest. It just shows how the hardest things to do are often end up being the best. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Cathy! It’s always nice to know I’m not alone in my struggles, and I hope this letter helped you feel like you’re not alone, too.

  3. I am crying with tears of great pride. I know what it took to get to this letter and to see where it landed you astounds me. Your courage to share of yourself is a bravery that has more power that I think you truly realize. I love that this show brought you, NGN and so many wonderful women into my life at a time when I had lost my way and forgotten who I was. You’re ability to harness that in yourself and pivot is so inspiring. The fact that you can then articulate it so lovingly and eloquently in gratitude is what makes you unbelievably special. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself. I know this letter was hard to come by, but oh my how you tapped into the the very core of what Kate means to you – not to everyone else – but to you. And that is what makes this project special.

    • And now I’m crying. Every word of this comment is something I will hold close to my heart forever. Thank you for helping me to see my own bravery when I can’t. I’m so happy Castle brought you to NGN, because I know my life is better for having you in it—and I know I’m not the only member of the NGN Family who can say that.

  4. A brilliant tribute to an extraordinary character – and to yourself. Kate Beckett is my all time favourite female lead character in a television show. She is strong, independent, complex and, as you so rightly say, flawed. Marlowe, Miller and the other writers have done a truly impressive job with her evolution and have inspired me to write my own strong, determined yet imperfect protagonists in my fiction. I will always be grateful to the character, the writers and also to Stana Katic for breathing life into this amazing woman. Thanks for a great post.

    • Thank YOU for a great comment! What a lovely tribute to this character we both love so much. I’m so happy to hear that Beckett inspired you to write characters like her in your own fiction, because the world needs more complex, flawed, but strong female characters. Bravo to you for continuing that legacy!

  5. Beautifully done on this. Thanks for being so open and real. Struggle is what makes us human. The willingness to struggle is what makes us strong. Not being in a romantic relationship doesn’t mean that you are not loved — I wish more young women would figure that out. Yes we need to strive to be the best versions of ourselves . . . but not in order to be loved or to please anyone else.

    And know, sweetie, that we love just the way you are and will gladly cheer you on as you struggle to be a better person and better writer. (I think you’re doing quite a lovely job in that direction, btw.)

    • You are just too kind to me. Thank you so much. Having this support system—which you are such a huge part of—has helped me reach a place of openness and honesty that I never thought I’d achieve as both a writer and a person. I feel so grateful to have you and the rest of this little family to help me remember the lessons Beckett taught me that I shared in this letter.

  6. Loved this post. I agree with so much that you have to say about Beckett. It’s her flaws and her strength that make her so appealing and such a good role model. I especially like how you talked about the fact that she’s the hero of the show. Absolutely.

  7. I don’t watch Castle (as you know), but this is one of the most honest letters I’ve ever read. And I love how the fact that you were struggling so hard with it made for something truly perfect. I don’t use that word lightly, Katie. This letter is probably one of the things that shows us your character the most. That you are a human being that tries so hard to do good by others you beat yourself up for it, but know that you are doing an extraordinary job and this honesty is wholeheartedly so inspiring. It’s okay not to be perfect. And that’s what I’m going to take away from this. I don’t even know Beckett but I love her already because she’s taught such an incomparable message. Beautiful job, lovely!

    • I already told you this, but this made me cry. Thank you—a thousand times thank you. To think that you could feel my desire to project who I truly am in every word of this letter means so much to me. All I ever want to do with my writing is reveal my character and show my true self. And I so hoped that came through especially in this letter—because so much of who I am was impacted for the better by this character.

      PS: I know no one has time to add another show to their list, but I do think you’d love Beckett. There are way more similarities between her and Emma than most people would guess.

  8. Pingback: What Makes You Extraordinary: A Letter to Kate Beckett | Yearwood Daily Book Review

  9. For so long, I’ve tried to come up with all the reasons why I love the character of Beckett, but I just can’t get it right. There is just so much to the character that it feels like mere words cannot express how extraordinary she is. But you did it. And what you’ve written contains everything. What you’ve written is exactly the list of why Kate Beckett is and will always be a hero of mine, of us. She is a fictional character that everybody can relate to. She isn’t perfect, but so are all of us, and she teaches me to see perfection in every imperfection. Thank you so much for this letter, I will be reading it every time I need a reminder of why I need to be strong. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! It’s an honor to think that this post can serve as a reminder for you that strength comes from accepting yourself and allowing yourself to believe you can be happy no matter your imperfections. And if you ever need a more personal reminder, I’m always more than happy to remind anyone who needs it that they are stronger than they realize. ❤

  10. Not gonna lie: this made me cry. Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what I feel about this character, and how much seeing her grow has helped me grow too.

  11. I adore you for penning this letter. For many reasons, of which one is the fact that it seemed in so many ways to mirror my own experience. I always had loved Castle, like you, from the very beginning. And also for me, season four aired around the time my mother got diagnosed with cancer, and I was at a crossroads in my career, and everything was threatening to pull me apart. There was no right way, and since I also suffer the curse of being a perfectionist, it was painful beyond words to witness everything I had worked years for along with my very happy home life, all collapsing right before my eyes.
    In the midst of all this, Kate was like the friend I never had. The only soul who seemed to be going through the same struggles, accepting herself as she was, and powering through a difficult time.
    She made me want to be the best version of myself, simply for me.
    And even now, four years later, she has taught me how to smash the stereotypical and accepted ideas of womanhood, love and happiness, and to be my own hero. I love her so much, I cannot possibly eloquently say enough. Lastly, I thank you for sharing your story, it was heartwarmingly inspiring for me. From the lattes, to the heels and trenchcoats, to the life choices, I did the same things, and it has made me who I am today.

    • Well now it’s my turn to say I adore you for writing this comment. Truly. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone in my lattes and heels—but also in my struggles and my journey to self-acceptance. I was once told something really beautiful: “To be understood is to find joy.” So thanks for helping me find even more joy by making me feel understood.

  12. I’m not a nerdy girl. So I guess I’ll that makes me a “nerdy man ” but still in love with this story and this woman. Both Kate & Stana, not sure which one I love the most!. Probably both equally. That’s what makes a great story & a great actress.

  13. Ur lucky u can express urself on paper – I too, like a small group suffered and still suffer thru PTSD — I wasn’t the one shot I was the one who watched. I feel there is ALOT of Kate Beckett on ALL of us – we ARE CALLED SURVIVORS! Our personal strength will over come every obstical that is thrown in our way and we, well we MOVE it out of our way
    Kudos to u to have the courage to write this beautiful letter! Xoxoxo

    • Thank you—and kudos to you for sharing such a moving and brave comment with us. You are a survivor—just like Beckett. I’m so happy you’ve had this character to help remind you that you have the strength to face obstacles and overcome them, because you do. ❤

  14. Wow!!! You wrote what many of us feel and can’t express. I am not a young girl and yet at a moment in my life of making a life changing career move… I rediscovered Castle, just as if Divine was sending me a personal message through the storyline of Castle. My love affair with Castle became OCD for I discovered the powerful play within the storytelling that Andrew Marlowe and Terri were creating and each Monday it became a magical night as I was given the opportunity to see what extraordinary storytelling in action and what a template they have created!!! So many times I wanted to shout out to the world look at these characters! look at this story!!! it is so enriched with such powerful messages and most of all the unconscious thread that inspires beyond just simple words.
    Thank Katie for writing this letter and sharing it with all of us!!!! Kudos to you!!
    I had never followed any TV program until Castle and I have found myself feeling as when we share we are sharing among friends that know each other for a long time….
    The inspiring messages that Castle provides through their storytelling has blossom into a social media friendship of people that makes me (a 56 yr old woman) feel as if I had known them all my life– it is truly a great example that social media can be a good thing 🙂
    I have used some of Kate Beckett words (special her interaction with Castle about trust between them and of course when she defend her work and love for Castle) for my workshops because they are crafted in a perfect way to understanding the inner workings of our own being.
    Sending you a hug …. Keep your light shining

    • Thank you! I happily accept all offers of hugs, and I’m sending some back to you, too!

      I’m so glad you rediscovered Castle when you needed it most. I always believe that shows—just like people—come into our lives for a reason, exactly when we need them. And it warmed my heart to hear that this show has brought wonderful people into your life through social media. Sometimes the Internet can bring out the worst in people, but I’ve also seen—especially through fandom friendships—the way it can bring out the best.

  15. Wow, this is amazing. I am moved to tears by your wonderful tribute, and I am so impressed by you. I wish I had the power of words that you have. You described Kate Beckett so well.

    Well done! Bravo!

  16. This article is a truly beautiful tribute to the character of Kate Beckett, and to yourself! Castle is by far my favourite show, and Beckett my favourite character. I admire her so much, pushing through her struggle and being the amazing, determined, beautiful woman she is. The writers are truly amazing to have created such a layered and dynamic character.

    My father struggled with depression and anxiety for almost my entire life; he unfortunately committed suicide 3 years ago. My Mum and I certainly struggled with our relationship at times especially after my Dad’s death.
    I have always loved crime shows and one night I turned the TV on to find an episode of Castle. I didn’t know then that Castle would be much more than “a crime show”, and I never knew what the show and its characters would mean to my life. We began watching Castle together and no matter what the day had been like–arguments, tears, stresses–when we sat down to watch this amazing show and it felt like family; it felt like home.
    Castle brought my Mum and I together when nothing else could. I am overjoyed to say that we still enjoy watching episodes together to this day, and some of my best memories of time spent together is watching Castle.

    Thank you again for this wonderful letter Katie, it means a lot to me and all Beckett fans.

    • Thank you, Amelia—not just for saying such nice things about this letter, but for sharing your story with me. I’m so sorry for your loss, but it gives me such hope to hear that Castle helped you and your mother at such a difficult time. It never ceases to warm my heart to hear stories of the ways fiction has helped people find light and healing in the darkest times in their lives. And I think your story of what Castle—and the character of Beckett—has meant to you is one of the most beautiful ones I’ve heard. Beckett would be proud of you for your strength. ❤

  17. Wow. This is absolutely the best summation ever of why we love Kate Beckett. You have written a very eloquent tribute to the beloved, unique, complex character of Katherine Beckett and, by extension, to the extraordinary Stana Katic. Beckett, as we know and love her, would never have been brought to life and into our hearts without Stana’s brilliant interpretation of her. You have captured the essence of Kate Beckett and why she has been so important in so many lives. Thank you for this beautiful essay.

    • Thank you so much for saying such kind things! Beckett has meant so much to me for such a long time, and all I wanted to do with this letter was do her character justice. And I totally agree with you about Stana Katic. Her love for this character came through in every moment, and without her we wouldn’t have the complex, multifaceted character so many of us admire.

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