The actual view from the Megabus (when I get a prime front seat).

On Glamour (or lack thereof): My Uncool Megabus Life

“Ugh, you have such a glamorous life! I want to be more like you!”

People tell me this from time to time, and it always makes me feel so strange, like I’m fooling the whole world.

I mean, I guess my life does appear “glamorous” when thought about from a distance. Since graduating from college a mere two years ago, I’ve: lived in New York City, worked in Rockefeller Center, quit my job, given away nearly everything I owned, moved to California, learned to surf, traveled to six different countries, and lived in rural Nicaragua.

Yeah, it sounds glamorous when I talk about it. Some of the photos look glamorous. I’ve begun to take pride in my persona as a “badass who does what she loves and doesn’t care what people think.”

But, to be honest, if you were to visit me in any one micro-moment of that seemingly-glamorous life, you would quickly see the reality behind that facade. That reality is my awkwardness, no makeup, hair-never-neat, doing lunges at the Megabus rest stop in ill-fitting shorts and a pilly sweatshirt while others silently judge from behind their trendy sunglasses.

A word about Megabus: I’ve taken buses everywhere since I was a teenager. I’ve always been frugal to a fault, and so I find myself on 8-hour bus rides on the regular. Let me assure you: It is not a glamorous way to travel. It’s cheap, takes forever, and the on-board restroom makes the whole bus smell like port-a-potty fumes.

But despite the especially unfortunate setting, I highlight Megabus here because my monthly trips on the bus have become for me a microcosm of the rest of my life —taking the cheapest option, lessons in fitting my possessions and myself in too small a space, learning not to judge people different from me, frequent pee breaks, trying not to offend people with the smell of my weird healthy food in a tupperware, struggling to walk on the moving bus without falling over.

I can usually be found with my shoes off and my legs awkwardly intruding into the aisle, neck crunched in a funny position trying to sleep while vertical. This feels representative of the way I often feel moving through the world.

Rain through the Megabus window.

I’m serious when I say that in my actual moment-to-moment life, I am the least glamorous person I know. Here are some more ways in which I live my life that are extraordinarily unglamorous:

  • my sunglasses are eternally scratched
  • my purse’s handle is falling off
  • my underwear probably has a hole in it
  • I only own about two weeks’ worth of clothing, really
  • my water bottle probably smells a little funky
  • I don’t care much about aesthetics, so when I cook, instead of looking like one of those beautiful vegan bowls on Instagram, it looks like a cat threw up in my pot
  • I try to squeeze in the gym every day, which often means I show up to events in the evening sweaty and gross
  • I do calisthenics and unsightly yoga poses (hello, “happy baby pose”) in unlikely public places
  • I don’t want to get cancer so I use natural deodorant, which probably means I have pit stains

These choices aren’t without a reason — in order to make my uprooted and adventurous lifestyle work, I can’t spend much money. Because I move so often, I can’t own much stuff. I care a lot about being super-healthy, often at the expense of my appearance and social normalcy. I value efficiency and maximizing experiences above all else. As a result, I spend most of my life looking like a hot mess and silently judging myself for not being more “put-together” and glamorous, like a real “cool person” should be.

Basically, my lack of glamour is in service of larger things that I want — convenience, minimalism, health, extra money to travel. But I’d be lying if I said I never felt ugly, unkempt, inferior, or less cool than the people around me, because I do — every day.

This cognitive dissonance brings up an important question that I’ve been struggling with lately:

Which is more self-respecting: to not care about what I look like (especially in order to focus on the things that are more important to me) or to value my appearance and put care into the way I present myself?

I’m still trying to find the balance between efficiency and self-presentation, and in it hopefully find a piece of myself that’s been woefully absent — the piece of myself that really does feel like that badass that does what she wants and doesn’t care what people think.

Maybe I ought to give her a swipe of lipstick sometimes, to let her — and the other Megabus passengers — know how cool she really is.