By guest blogger: Terese Lynch
Home & Work– the two places most Americans spend the majority of their time. I don’t know about you, but when I realize how much time I actually spend at work it makes me a little sad. By the time I get home from work I am tired and hungry, and with two small children I find my “free time” to be very limited.
When I first heard of the notion a “Third Place” I thought “Who has time for a third place?!” Then as I looked deeper I was surprised to realize that not only does everyone have a third place whether they realize it or not, but my third place made me even sadder than the amount of time I spend working.
The unfortunate reality is if you don’t have an intentional “Third Place” you are probably like me, spending it in front of a screen. The t.v., computer, phone, tablet….these are the most common default Third Places. This is where I was (and still am sometimes) spending my free time. And why not? Afterall, it fits most of the Third Place criteria: accessible, convenient, and comfortable. Another component I found appealing about this “online” Third Place is that it is non-judgemental. I don’t have to explain myself or my choices– great, right?
Then I took a more insightful approach. Am I being intentional about my Third Place? I was choosing without choosing, defaulting to the easiest choice. Have you ever been in an interview and been asked “What do you do in your free time?” or “What are some of your hobbies?” I found myself struggling to come up with a response that wasn’t “ I watch Netflix.”
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the occasional Netflix movie or episode binge, but I could not let this be the only activity outside of home and work. I knew I wanted to get back into my pre-baby shape, and desperately wanted to get back into group fitness classes, but felt so many options were either out of my price range, time range, or driving range. I also felt guilty for not being in shape. “What will the others in these classes think of me?”, I worried.
I spent a lot of time looking at fitness classes or gyms weighing the pro’s and con’s, thinking of how I could make it work with my work and family life. The options were not appealing to me. I spent months talking, thinking, and planning…how could I make this work. If you are like me, I often get an idea get really excited about it and then I lose steam. I did NOT want this to happen again.
Then through good ole Facebook I started hearing about a yoga studio in the town where I live. It was SO close to home I could easily get there, and the schedule had classes I could go to…I didn’t know if I would fit in but a special came up and I couldn’t refuse, so I thought “I will try this.”
I started with an 8 week challenge. That was last December. It’s almost been a year, and although I don’t always make it as much as I would like, I still go. If I have missed class for a couple weeks, there is no guilt, I walk into class and am greeted by friendly faces who are happy I am there– a great Third Place quality. Not only did I start to notice a difference physically, I also noticed a difference socially. I had a community of people now, a place where I belonged. To me that is priceless.
A Third Place is relative. Maybe mine isn’t always the same, or maybe it doesn’t always fit the true criteria of my ideal Third Place all of the time, but I have something. I have something other than a screen now. My Third Place is always there, accepts me, fits my lifestyle, and helps me be the best version of myself, and that’s what I need in my Third Place. Think of your places. Even if your place isn’t the same as mine, I sincerely hope this challenges you to be thoughtful. Time is precious and life is short, be intentional and deliberate about your choices. If you are looking for a Third Place, and are hesitant to jump in, come and join me at mine, you are always welcome!