WHEN IN ROME: Sometimes strange is normal

For a moment or two I considered entering one of the bicycle races that were held last weekend at the new Tachilla Game Reserve at the southern end of Francistown – but I quickly rejected the notion as an unstylish idea.
You see, I don’t own a fancy bike, I don’t have a Darth Vader helmet or wrap-around sunglasses, I don’t own pointy spiked bicycle shoes or a pair of gloves without any fingers; and worst of all, I don’t have a multi-coloured, skin-tight, lycra cycling suit.
Without all that gear I would have looked pretty stupid.
Hmmm… I’m kidding here; I do, in fact, own a pair of wrap-around glasses.  I would also have been perfectly happy to ride my P400 mountain bike in the same tatty shorts and t-shirt I wore to play football the Thursday before the race… if, that is, I’d survived the game with two healthy hamstrings.
But enough about men in tights, what I really want to talk about is the social pressures many people feel today to conform to dress codes and other social rules.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is any problem with wanting to fit in with what our peers are wearing or doing with their free time, but I do think it is dangerous to make being like everyone else a major priority.
Each of us is unique…just like everyone else.
Now I think uniforms are great for school kids – they remove the social pressures of competitive dressing at a time when there is already an unhealthy amount of competition – and they are necessary for the military and police.  Those crotch hugging cycling suits and aerodynamic helmets are fine as well for serious racers, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of them.  I also go out of my way to avoid the business uniform and I suspect those things most men put around their necks before they set off for work are called ties for a very good reason.
Anyway, clothing isn’t the area where this follow the leader mentality really worries me.  What I’ve seen overseas is that many potentially unhealthy activities that people used to do to be different such as getting tattooed and piercing various body parts eventually become so socially acceptable that many people – especially teenagers – want to do them so they can fit in with their friends.  That’s probably the major reason kids get hooked on smoking cigarettes as well.  I mean really, has anyone ever enjoyed their first smoke?
I guess what I’m really try to get at is that regardless of weather we want to fit in or stand out in this life who we are on the inside is far more important than what we look like on the outside.  That approach to life has saved me a bundle over the years on clothing, jewellery and other fashion accessories such as new cars.
Besides, the way I see it, I can express my inner self without piercing my body or sticking a cigarette in my mouth, and I am perfectly capable of looking like a dork without having to wear lycra.

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