Let me be 100 percent blunt for a moment: I used to despise the Kardashian clan.
Not that I had anything against them on a personal level. I've never met Kim or Khloe or any of the other K-names. I'm sure all of them -- even Kris -- are good people on some level.
But I downright loathed the amount of attention they got.
To me, they represented exactly what is wrong with society these days: obsessing over people for no real reason other than they're there. Famous for being famous. And I was a nasty little cynic sometimes, pointing out how easily we could learn about Kim's latest stunt or Kendall's foray into modeling, but how much deliberate work it took to learn about practically anything else. I'd turn on the E! Channel for some lighthearted fun and get Keeping Up With The Kardashians practically every single time. Grocery shopping meant seeing a Kardashian face in passing, their mugs on the cover of at least one magazine that week.
I always had a slew of comments up my sleeve about that family and America's obsession with them:
"I believe everything happens for a reason... except for Keeping up with the Kardashians. There's no reason for that."
"The Kardashian Craze is proof that there is no just God in this universe."
"What terrible things are you doing with your time? Kicking puppies? Stealing from the UNICEF jar? Or -- worse -- watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians?"
Seriously, I didn't understand it and I definitely didn't like it.
And then we learned a former Bruce Jenner was transgender. Jenner was still considered a member of the Kardashian clan -- even after her divorce from Kris Jenner -- and, like anything the Kardashians do, the world took notice. We tuned in when she talked with Diane Sawyer about her struggles, about how she had been living a lie, a double life. We nearly broke Internet again, this time with pictures of her photoshoot with Vanity Fair.
Every channel -- not just the E! channel -- had something to say about Caitlyn Jenner, her life, her past, her present. You couldn't throw a stone in the Internet world without hitting a blost post, an article, some type of blurb on Caitlyn Jenner and what it meant to be transgender.
For many people, this was their first time actually being confronted with the concept. There had been other celebrities who had come out as transgender before -- celebrities like Chaz Bono -- and these celebrities should always be recognized for helping to pave the way. But the attention they received paled in comparison to the attention Caitlyn Jenner received.
Suddenly, dialogues were opening up. People who had never given a passing thought to the transgender community before now knew of someone who was transgender. It meant stories that had been pushed under the rug -- like the suicide of Leelah Alcorn -- were coming back to light. Legislation that had been stalled time and time again -- bills created to protect the rights of transgender people -- were now gaining more and more attention. The fight for equality had a brand new catalyst, and her name was Caitlyn Jenner.
This would not have happened if, as a society, we didn't obsess over the Kardashians in the way that we do. An obsession that I -- as well as many people -- originally saw as pointless and unnecessary.
And if that isn't proof that everything happens for a reason, I don't know what is.
Over the last four or five years, I've taken on a hippy-dippy, New Age, frustratingly neutral belief system. One that takes in the past, the present, and the future of the world, and views it as a type of story or painting. Each event is essentially another line, another chapter, another brushstroke: something deliberate and predestined, something in place to set off another chain of events, another set of brushstrokes. Good, bad -- they're all catalysts for the next event. Like chemical reactions in and on the sun, there to help set off a new set of reactions, a new set of explosions. To keep the sun burning, to keep the story going, to make the painting more captivating.
Everything has a reason, and that reason is intertwined with the story, the painting.
It's not an easy belief system to have. The world is filled to the brim with pain and suffering. I remember sitting on my back porch after an early morning phone call, getting the latest news about a woman I had known since I was in kindergarten, a woman who was slowly losing her battle with breast cancer. I hung up the phone and hugged my knees to my chest and thought to myself, "What's the damn reason here for one of the nicest women in the world to be dying long before her time?"
And then I thought about how trivial my woes felt in comparison to everything else that was going on in the world. And it's only a very small jump, then, into, "What's the damn reason," for every unfair and cruel aspect of life.
In some weird way, it's actually easier to believe in chaos. To believe that things happen for no reason, or -- worse -- that all this pain is somehow a punishment from a higher being. That's an easy belief system to have. It'll eat away at your soul, but that cynical approach takes very little to maintain. I mean, look around you. What's the reason for ISIL, for civil war, for child soldiers and human trafficking and oppressive regimes? What's the reason for abject poverty in the world's most affluent nations? What's the reason for ego and pride and short-sighted heel-digging that can only spell disaster later on down the road?
In light of all that, using something like the Kardashian craze as a reminder that everything happens for a reason seems frivolous and silly. It seems downright naive. But sometimes it's the silly reminders that we need the most. Sometimes what we need is to look at a situation and facetiously go, "What's the reason for this stupid family and their stupid fame?" -- only to realize a near decade later that that stupid family and their stupid fame created a platform for a better fight for equality.
There is a reason. There is always a reason.
So I can't hate anymore. I can't hate on the fact that Kim and Kanye try to break the internet. I can't hate on Kris Jenner's attempts at daytime talk shows. I can't hate on the spin-offs and spin-offs-of-a-spin-off that Keeping Up With the Kardashians created. Khloe and Kourtney, take on Miami. Get down with your bad self. Kendall and Kylie, keep doing what you're doing. There's a reason for all of it, even if that reason won't make itself known for years to come.
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