Struggle Bus – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Hanging out with teenagers will teach you a lot of different Internet slang terms that you did not know before. The phrase “struggle bus” has become especially common in the past few years in a teenager’s lexicon.

But what does this phrase really mean? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of the expression.


The phrase “struggle bus” is commonly used to refer to a situation or task that appears to be especially difficult or frustrating. It is something that, going into it, you believe you will have a hard time accomplishing. This may be something that you do not normally have a difficult time doing, but because of certain circumstances, you are unable to do it with ease as you usually do.

“Struggle bus” can also be used to refer to a person who has had a little too much to drink and is currently struggling just to exist. Being on the “struggle bus” may indicate that a lot of bad or unfortunate things have happened to you in a short amount of time. Common phrasing could be that you are “on the struggle bus” or “riding the struggle bus”. More information can be found in the video (here).

Example Usage

“I woke up late, spilled my coffee, and can’t find my keys. I’m on the struggle bus today.”

“I’m really riding the struggle bus today after barely sleeping last night.”

“I’m having a hard time getting all of this work done. I’m on the struggle bus today.”

“Stacy just can’t seem to get anything done today, she must be taking a ride on the struggle bus”.

“With inflation and rising rent prices, I am really on the struggle bus and almost out of gas”.


The first recorded use of the term “struggle bus” on the Internet occurred sometime between 2000 and 2005. An official definition of the phrase was not created until 2009.
To this day, multiple kinds of media have used references to the “struggle bus”. Country musician Clayton Anderson released a song titled “Struggle Bus” in 2020, which discussed the challenges of being a kid or teenager in our modern society. Author Josh Woods released a book titled Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend, in 2020 revolved around some of the troubles that come with having a family of eleven.

Phrases Similar to Struggle Bus

  • The struggle is real.
  • Don’t ask me, I just work here.
  • Trying to make do.
  • Living on a wing and a prayer.
  • I don’t know what I’m doing.
  • Being wasted/exhausted/etc. (depending on the context)

Phrases Opposite to Struggle Bus

  • Thriving
  • Flourishing
  • Doing well
  • Succeeding

What is the Correct Saying?

  • “Struggle bus” itself is the correct saying.

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Struggle Bus

The phrase “struggle bus” is used to refer to someone who is having a particularly hard time doing something, especially a task that does not normally take much effort to do. It can also be used to refer to a series of bad events that happens to someone in a short amount of time. Attempting to use this phrase to refer to someone who is not having a hard time doing anything would be incorrect, as well as using it to refer to someone who has not been experiencing anything bad. Some ways that “struggle bus” is used incorrectly are:

  • Emily just got a new job! She’s definitely riding the struggle bus today.
  • Jim just got an A on his math exam. He’s on the struggle bus.
  • Jessica just bought her first car all by herself! She must be on the struggle bus today.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Struggle Bus

  • I can’t believe I lost my homework earlier. I’m really riding the struggle bus today.
  • I’ve been having such a hard time just trying to braid my hair. I’m on the struggle bus right now.
  • I made such a mess trying to make dinner tonight. I’m seriously riding the struggle bus right now.

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