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At some point in my life, I couldn’t take pictures. It wasn’t because I didn’t love the idea of having a shot, it wasn’t because I was photo-phobia nor because the camera flash blinds my eyes but because I had the very wrong impression about myself. I thought I was never good for the camera, I thought cameras wouldn’t want to feature me on whatever they project on papers and screen because I believed in a lie about myself. I wouldn’t start telling the stories again, if you are a George’s Diary reader, you must have been conversant with that part of my life. However, even then, it would always hurt me that I couldn’t keep memories.

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For me, pictures aren’t anything more than keeping memories. Stories may begin to change pictures overtime, the stories we tell today may hold different imageries in the minds of people reading it but pictures remain the same. If it was a black man in white shirt, black trousers and afro hair style, it will remain the same in the next hundred years as long as the pictures are well preserved. Afro cannot suddenly turn to “low cut”; white cannot suddenly turn to red! There was something that never occurred to me back then though.

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While stories can create different pictures in the minds of the readers, pictures can create different stories in the minds of the viewers! During the days when I was liberated from being photo-phobia, I became photo-crazy! I wanted to take pictures everywhere I go, it wasn’t an addiction, it was a hobby. I could live without it but I never wanted to, maybe because I wanted to make up for the years I never took pictures or maybe because I was surrounded with loving people and wanted to keep memories of each person. It was possible to take pictures with people I was meeting for the first time for I believed you may not meet them again. That is true! Those memories were important to me, it has never stopped being important.

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As I started becoming a popular public figure within my locality, I started realizing something I had never thought about in years. The stories and memories behind my pictures were not the stories that viewers were seeing, there weren’t seeing what I was seeing and they weren’t even paying attention to what I was showing! I discovered people feel more comfortable making up their own stories behind any picture.

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Most of the pictures I had taken were with my followers, co-laborers and friends. I had a high percentage of females around my circles more than I had males. In the fellowship I led for instance, ladies were much in number than males. Then my friends were very few and they actually didn’t include many women. At some point, my friends were only two guys and a lady. I took pictures with most committed people in fellowship back then without limiting it to ladies or gentlemen but because there were many females, my viewers were making up their own stories. Another thing I discovered was that people create stories out of pictures based on what is in their mind, sometimes they are negative and sometimes they are positive.

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One of the most negative things I have heard from someone who is probably a Reverend was that it seemed as if I was guilty of incest. My head almost blew up when I heard that. He pointed out several pictures I took with my sister and said it doesn’t speak well of me, he said I shouldn’t be taking pictures with my sister because she is not same sex with me. You see, he created that story from a picture that originally had a different story. 

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Personally, I thought it was just about keeping memories. The social media for me was the safest place to store my pictures and I never had issues with it being public because I also loved sharing my mind with people along with pictures since I learnt it makes our post more engaging. Many people never paid attention to pictures I took with guys, those who did would also make up stories of homosexuality while others were trying to decode from pictures who is my girlfriend or who I am crushing on. I had same value for all my pictures including the ones I took with ladies and the one I took with guys, it all made one meaning to me and it all served one purpose which is, the purpose of keeping memories! I had always had dreams of my children going to my social media profile to watch my youthfulness and see several people I had came across. Probably they would see that I associated with the right people, they would see pictures I took with the leaders, pastors, governors and celebrities of their time and it would also encourage them to make right associations. However,I wasn’t thinking what many people who came across my pictures were thinking.

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One of the days, I travelled out of the state to feature in an event. One of my colleagues who went with me opted in for pictures; I actually never had that in mind. I gave in to it and we had lots of shots because I had my personal camera with me. They were so beautiful and as usual I decided to post them on Facebook. After some minutes she approached me and said “George, why did you post those pictures on Facebook? Don’t you know people are looking at me? Don’t you know I am a leader in my fellowship? Don’t you know I am a woman? Don’t you know my parents will misread these pictures?” she continued with so many other ‘Don’t you knows’. I responded “personally, I see things differently… Maybe that is why I don’t even create stories on people’s pictures. I see pictures as memories that should be kept and the social media is one good way I share my memories. For me, it’s not about a guy or a lady… We weren’t hugging, kissing or even holding hands in these pictures. I read no extra meaning in pictures… But I have heard you” when I came to Facebook to delete the pictures, people were already commenting stuffs like “is she the one? This one is good for ministry, she looks good on you…” and stuffs like that. I stamped it that we are not the same, we all think differently and must respect how people think  even when trying to make them think right.

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While in fellowship, our members had enjoyed taking pictures together and sharing it on facebook regardless of stories people create out of it, outside there, I saw that others think differently and pay attention to what people think. I decided to hide my camera from some people, I decided to swallow some memories and never keep it, not because I am not proud of anyone I come across but to some people, pictures matter!

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As an act of respect to people’s opinion, I don’t place request for pictures among female folks except those who share the same opinion with me as regards pictures and sometimes I turn down offers of selfies from people who wouldn’t love me to share our memories. Right now, I think it matters. Pictures are great ways of showing memories but they are not great ways of telling stories, people choose the story they will read out of every picture they come across and they choose the pictures they will see out of the stories they hear. 

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We are in a world of moral decadence, no matter how you try to remain positive, people will always try to point out the negatives. Why? Many don’t believe being positive is possible anymore because they see their struggles as everyone’s struggle. Some don’t believe persons of the opposite sex can hold hands together walking along the road without negative attachments, some don’t believe there are still positive relationships, pictures and all that. We also can’t help it by trying to force people think like us, we can only help ourselves by not giving people the reason to always hit at us and misread us. This doesn’t mean living in hypocrisy, it doesn’t mean trying to please people, it means creating good impression. But when people are into the business of deliberately misreading and misquoting us… We should let them talk as we live our lives… It shows our superiority to them.

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You are a topic to them because you are an icon they cannot ignore. I have not stop loving pictures, I have not stop my usual collections of memories, I only enjoy it with those who are comfortable to share memories and I respect the opinions of those who thinks there is more to that too!

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Like I said, we’re all different.

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#GracefulGeorge

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