This journalist began doodling to express herself, now she has a massive Insta following

Tanika Godbole

@missfitcomics is an Instagram page with comics about current news, feminism, and pop culture

When she was still in college, Tanika Godbole doodled to pass the time – between lectures, in the middle of a boring class, you get the picture. It would be years before the doodling became a serious project that wouldn’t just make her Insta-famous but also help her find her voice.

“I’ve always doodled here and there,” Godbole says. “And when I was at Cardiff studying journalism, I made some for the class magazine.” On Instagram, Godbole runs @missfitcomics, a tongue-in-cheek wordplay on misfit, something Godbole sees herself as being. “I have never been very outspoken,” she says, “For most part, I’ve been quiet, awkward and soft-spoken. And I suppose, I got a little exhausted listening to everyone’s opinions and finding it difficult to have my say.”

So Godbole turned to the one thing in which she knew she could find some solace. She took a pen and paper and began doodling her opinions. Her initial cartoon strips were on physical pieces of paper (as against on the computer or iPad) of which she took pictures and uploaded them on her social media, starting with Facebook.

Facebook is also where she began getting her first reactions. Her friends and family who were used to seeing her as a quiet wallflower suddenly realised that not only did she have opinions, but also a wicked sense of humour. Needless to say the first reactions she received were all very positive. “At first when people learnt about my cartoon strips, they’d tell me they wanted to be part of it but when they actually saw my work, several of them realised that they’d be better off without being part,” she laughs.

Godbole’s cartoons are a sharp take on the things she sees around her as well as things she experiences herself – from casual sexism and the rise of the Indian right-wing to social anxiety (with a stray Harry Potter strip thrown in). She doesn’t doodle every day or every couple of days but she is regular -- to her nearly 10,000-plus followers. It’s a big step for someone who’s lived with social anxiety for most of her life.

Courtesy: Missfitcomics/Instagram

In a Medium post for Skin Stories, Godbole writes that she’d found it difficult to be around people and make friends. “I am great with one-on-one interactions,” she writes in the post, “But when there are more people, I lose confidence… I also feel that revealing my personality too much will open me up to a lot of ridicule and humiliation.” It’s what prevented her from forming bonds with her peers in college and school. “I used to sit, dress, and behave in a manner that didn’t invite any sort of attention. Only when I was alone in my room did I feel like I could truly be myself,” she says in the post.

In several ways, doodling away in the corner of a crowded room on her iPad – she uses Procreate now – helped her gain confidence. Or at least a version of what you may call confidence. “Of course, I am uncomfortable and awkward as I used to be; it’s not like I’ve become a different person,” she says “But I think what’s changed is that I don’t feel the need to hide myself like I used to. And that’s a big step.”

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