Lifestyle, Wellness

What, Why, Where, Third Places

You go to school/work and you go home, how lonely and disconnected. You go online, you find groups and small communities where you feel connected to people who share the same interests as you. However, you don’t really feel connected. These are all strangers, you don’t know them, and they don’t know you. At the end of the day, you’re still in your house and they’re not actually there with you.

Your first place is your home, where you live and your second place is your place of work or school. So what is a third place?

When you were younger did you have a common place you’d go to after school or on weekends either by yourself or with your friends? For most people it was the mall or the library. Places that we wanted to go to, not because we had an obligation or were forced by anyone. Places where you felt connected with the community either by interacting with the space or by interacting with the people. These revisited spots are your third place. You could also have multiple third places! It could be a combination of the bookstore, coffee shop, and the local park. We can see in the media that third places have a community, a local area where people you know come and go and can count on being there on a Friday night. A good example of this is the sitcom Friends, as well as How I Met Your Mother. In Friends their third place is a coffee shop called Central Perk, and in How I Met Your Mother it’s a bar called MacLaren’s.

Why is having a third place important?

Third places are a way to feel connected, seen, known, and influential. This can be as simple as the local coffee shop barista remembering your drink order before you even tell them or being recognized by someone who also attends the place regularly. The saying “feeling lonely in a crowded room” is the complete opposite to a third place. Although not always a social situation, a third place is somewhere you can be alone by choice but not feel lonely. 

How to find a third place?

Your local library has tons of resources and hosts free events for everyone. If you’re not social but you love reading, games, or music this is still a great option.

Like the library, the community center also offers many resources and hosts many activities and events. Community centers are a great way to interact with those in your neighborhood you would otherwise never meet.

Coffee shops are a great third place because they can be an independent place, a social place for you and your friends, or a place to meet new people who aren’t too busy or cranky. However, if you’re the person who does their work in the coffee shop, I’m not sure that counts. 

Bookstores, similar to coffee shops, can be a great third place. Oftentimes bookstores even have a coffee shop within them. What’s great about bookstores is that because books are organized into sections, authors or genres, you can interact with people who are reading the same things as you.

Go to new places duh! You are not going to find your third place hiding under the covers in your bed. Go outside and walk around your city. Walk into shops you’ve never been in before, try that one drink from that one shop you’ve always had a weird craving for, and talk to some strangers. Ask people questions, maybe even ask them where they like to go. Either way go out their and find that third spot!

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