The self-doubting ego asks, 'Why are you doing this, Diriye? What's the end game here? You're not selling anything, which is to say you're not capitalising off your vision, so why spend so much time and care on this ephemeral body of work? If it's not in a book or a gallery, does it really exist? Why, Diriye? Why are you not monetizing this maneno?'
In these moments, I play some India Arie, a lil' Badu, some Jilly from Philly, and light candles that smell of black cherries and crushed vanilla. I wash my face, brush my teeth, put brightening drops in my eyes, and I hop into the shower for an hour (fun fact: I take three showers a day, which might sound like madness to some but is restorative on a spiritual level for me. My water supply company and I have a deep-deep intimate entanglement.)
In the shower, my consciousness engages in dialogue with my self-doubting ego.
'This work is not work. It's medicine for me. This work is the song of my soul, the mirror of my mind. I'm happy, and mentally and emotionally well, because I'm doing something purposive that is more important than my own self-doubt, than my own fragile ego. This work has been folded into my daily self-nourishment practices, like eating well, going for leisurely walks, and taking my medications. This work is how I live.'
The self-doubting ego, unwilling to back down so easily, retorts, 'If this work is so valuable to you, why not monetize it? Why not create posters of your designs and art books and short story collections and embark on international tours and sign with a film agent and-and-and? Why not become an empire?'
I wash my hair in that moment (with T-Gel shampoo for dry scalps) and condition it with Mane 'n' Tail Moisturising Conditioner (the horsehair brand beloved of bad gyals like Jennifer Aniston. So whenever you see Jen, know that the secret to her healthy hair is partly down to Mane 'n' Tail, which is also great for fortifying nails.)
I scrub-scrub-scrub myself until I'm muluq: clean as a cow-bone. This is when my psyche responds to my self-doubting ego's questions about empire-building and product-making and money-money-money.
'I don't do this for money because it's soulwork. This shaqo is my soulwork, and my soulwork is not for sale. We all need money to survive. I'm no dummy. But I simply refuse to create any barrier to accessing materials that should be easily — and freely — available to anyone who wishes to enjoy them. It's not about SEO or selling subscriptions or mugs with my mug on them. This is my healing practice as a storyteller, and I'm simply sharing the small wisdoms I've gleaned over the course of my life. This is a map of my dreams, which is really a compass directing me to my emancipation.'
At this point the self-doubting ego has calmed down because all it wants is assurance: a firm if subtly mutable roadmap. It wants to know the destination when the dream is the destination. It accepts that everything else is just dressing.
I get out of the shower, dry myself off, and moisturise my face with Bulldog Original Moisturizer, which is great for keeping ashiness at bay without inspiring breakouts for sensitive skin (it's marketed at men, but I know a lot of sister-friends who use it religiously. It's cheap, ethically sourced and fabulous.)
I then apply Bio Oil to every cranny of my body before adding a layer of Gloria Vanderbilt perfumed body milk. I spray my underarms with Dove deodorant, followed by a light all-over spritz with a combination of Gloria Vanderbilt perfume and an Agatha Ruiz de la Prada scent.
My psyche asks my self-doubting ego if it feels satisfied with the proffered reasons for why we do what we do. The self-doubting ego has stilled and is now just enjoying the beautification process.
I walk to the closet and take out a Disney T-Shirt and a colourful hoodie as well as bright, different coloured socks that have fried eggs and lemon prints emblazoned on them. I choose a pair of neon-green boots and neon-pink briefs, a pair of flattering jeans, and get dressed to greet the day.
Once I'm dressed, it's time to do my hair. After I comb my curls with an afro-pick, I apply leave-in moisturising conditioner followed by Wave Nouveau moisturising hair lotion and Lush's Curl Power, which contains shea butter: the lord's gift to black hair of all textures (plus Curl Power smells like Almond Joy, which is just straight-up delicious.)
Once my hair is done, I feel like a king, and I look it too. I fragrance my clothes and hair with Tom Ford and Jil Sander male scents, and finish the prettification procedure with a Hawaiian Tropics body mist that smells of mango and honey.
I'm ready to head out the door for my daily walk or to dinner or to meet my dear-dear friend and editor, John R. Gordon, whilst looking and smelling like a dream; self-doubting ego fully satisfied and satiated with the knowledge that we're going to be alright.
We're going to be alright, beautiful reader. I hope you know that.
With all the love and joy in the world,
DISCLAIMER: I don't get paid with kickbacks for plugging any of the products listed in this piece. It's just my super-wack, rinky-dinky beauty regime that I wanted to share with you, beloved reader.
Image by DIRIYE OSMAN.
Song of the moment: 'You'll Never Walk Alone' by BRITTANY HOWARD.