As winter comes to a close, and the beginning of spring approaches, we can look at the changing seasons as a way to check in with ourselves. I’ve always found the transition between seasons to be more gradual and forgiving than the New Year. Instead of writing a list of resolutions for the year ahead and immediately forcing ourselves to follow each task as soon as January 1st comes around, the coming of spring allows us to pinpoint what we want to do differently and slowly work up to it. As the leaves slowly return to the trees, we too can gradually make shifts. I see it as the best time to address where we want to see change in ourselves, set goals, and recognize the growth we’ve already made.

The prospect of blossoming flowers and the return of the sun is always exciting to me. After my first New York winter this year following years of living in hot and humid Texas “winters,” I’m especially thrilled for spring. I long to hang up my winter jacket for good. It may sound cliche, but spring truly does mark the coming of new life and a new day. Just as nature resets after months of cold and dark, we can also pull ourselves out of the cold and dark and into an era of brightness and warmth. Use these last couple weeks of winter to think about what is holding you back or bringing you down. Can you control these barriers? Are they barriers that can be changed or lowered through your own behavior and mindset? In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

Maybe change starts with the small things. Try taking some small risks. Talk to that person, try out that new coffee spot you’ve been wanting to go to, wear something out of your comfort zone. Pushing ourselves within healthy boundaries can help us bring a little extra joy to our lives.

What always comes to my mind when I think of expanding boundaries is my joy of exploring new places. Following my move to New York City last year, I was afraid to do pretty much anything outside of my comfort zone. I had just moved to the most vibrant and colorful city in the country, and I wanted to take in as much as possible, but I was afraid. This was my first time being somewhere so different on my own. One day I decided it wasn’t enough to stay in my own bubble. I decided to push myself and try to get out of my comfort zone. It was hard; I felt uneasy and unsure throughout the process, but once I took the first step of just trying, everything else was so easy. My mind was creating the biggest barrier, which in reality, didn’t even exist. I was telling myself there was a lot to be afraid of, that there was a lot to worry over. In practice, everything was so much easier once I got over the initial fear. Now, exploring new places in the city is my favorite thing to do. Regardless of what you’ve been wanting to do differently, don’t let your mind prevent you from doing it. As we approach this new season, let this be an opportunity for you to overcome the barriers you’ve set for yourself.

Now I encourage you to think about the habits you have that you may have wanted to change with the coming of the New Year. If I had to guess, those habits probably haven’t changed for the couple of months we’ve had in 2023. I know that because I myself have had things I want to change that are still with me as I’m writing this piece. But that’s perfectly okay. When there’s something we want to change about ourselves, it doesn’t happen overnight (unfortunately). No matter how much work or how little work we put into improving ourselves, sometimes the best thing that we need is time. With time, we automatically learn more about ourselves and what we need as people. Time gives us the opportunity to be patient and compassionate with ourselves. We learn about what we personally need in order to grow. Every interaction and experience we have on a daily basis reveals more about what we need and what we already possess. Recognize the things in your life that you feel would help you to blossom. And just as seasons come in slowly, with gentle transitions, allow yourself to go at your own pace. Set things into motion, but let them come naturally and at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Start noticing what makes you happy and what gives you a little extra strength, and how you can implement them into your daily life.

Sofia Aziz is a Creative Writer with The Mindful Self LLC. Sofia currently attends New York University majoring in International Studies with a double minor in South Asian Studies and Creative Writing.