reflections from senior year.

goodbye isn’t losing what you love; it is taking it with you wherever you go.

This past year was one fraught with many firsts. From learning what it means to love someone, to applying to grad school and jumping into the bleak unknown, I have experienced virtually every emotion. I wanted to offer a brief reflection, not because I think it’s something you all need to hear, but truthfully because I need to process. Tomorrow, I will be making the journey to Texas to begin my summer internship at UT Dallas. I am feeling many things right now: excitement, sadness, anxiety, hope, and nostalgia, just to name a few. Honestly, the hardest part of this transition is moving away from the people I love the most. Some days I wake up and think, “I can’t do it, I really can’t!” Why does the thing that had me excited for so many months suddenly feel like my breaking point? Will I only get as far as the Texas state line before I dissolve into a puddle of tears? I really don’t know.

let’s go back to the summer of ’18.

This past summer was one of enormous growth. On June 15, 2018, I told the world my greatest secret, that I experienced same-sex attraction. This was a huge moment for me because it allowed me to stop pretending. I just couldn’t do it any longer. With this honest moment came a whirlwind of confusion, though. What do I do with my sexuality? How do I approach this in light of my faith? What does the Lord have in store for me now? These were questions I asked (and still ask) on a daily basis. I really do believe in a sovereign and just God, even when His answers haven’t yet been revealed to me.

The year following the summer of ’18 was probably one of the most dynamic years of my life. I began to experience what many begin experiencing in Jr. High … l.o.v.e. I started to become more comfortable expressing these feelings to my friends. I had never done that before because I didn’t know it was an option. Growing up, I suppressed any admiration I had for boys because, to be honest, I thought people would think I was a freak. Knowing that my friends were there to love and support me made all the difference, and I’m so thankful to them for allowing me the space to be completely honest about what I was going through. (Special shoutout to Sylvia, Jordan, Olivia, Jackson, and Lane for always receiving my late-night “sad boy” texts with grace, love, and unconditional support. You all have no idea how much you mean to me.) While many of the people I liked were not romantically available, I also know that I was (and still am) working through what I believe about human sexuality, in light of my faith. Maybe I’m meant to be celibate, maybe I’m not. I’ve learned to be okay with this dissonance. I’m taking this journey one day at a time, confident the Lord will provide for me, no matter what. His love is not contingent on what I do, but rather, what he has already done.

In addition to my introspection, I also came clean with some of the guys I liked. This was probably the scariest part of my entire year. I knew it wasn’t something I had to do, but these people mean a lot to me, and I felt like it would help me move on and grow from the experience. Luckily for me, the guys I told handled the news with more grace than I could ever ask for, and we’re still close today. Being vulnerable in these moments terrified me, but it helped me develop friendships that could withstand nearly anything. And that is something for which I thank God every day!

thank you, Belmont, for believing in me.

Attending Belmont University was, by far, the best decision I could have made, four short years ago. Although I didn’t stick with music business, and could have studied public relations anywhere else, the community at Belmont was a non-negotiable. The love and care that my friends, co-workers, supervisors, and professors showed me allowed me to discover my passion of pouring into university students. I would not be pursuing higher education administration if it weren’t for Belmont. Freshman year, I could have never imagined the opportunities I would be afforded or the love I would be shown. Freshman Landon didn’t know his peers would vote him Homecoming King (something I would’ve only dreamed of), or that his beloved professors and faculty would award him a Bruin Award for distinguished leadership. I don’t say these things to toot my own horn; I’m just truly in awe of everything this community has done for me. It is through nearly tear-stained eyes that I write this. You know it was good when the goodbyes sting a little bit.

Soaking in the moment with Belmont’s lovely Queen, Ms. Jenna Drury.

finding joy in a new season.

To be completely real with you, I am extremely anxious to begin this next chapter of life. This past week, my heart has felt extremely heavy because of the sadness I have of leaving behind Belmont and the beautiful memories associated with it. When I get to Texas, I will be working as an Assistant Coordinator for Camps and Conferences at UT Dallas. Then, in July, I will move to Austin to begin in my role as an Assistant Complex Coordinator at UT Austin, as part of their Master’s Program in Higher Education Leadership. This position will certainly present many challenges and push me to grow in ways I never have before; however, I am confident that my team, my supervisors, my cohort, my professors, and above all, the AMAZING God I serve will carry me through every difficult moment. I have so much hope, y’all. I really do. ❤

Finally, I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you, Mum and Dad, for funding my education and literally loving me through all the crap that this world has ever thrown at me. Thank you, to the rest of my family, for always being a warm home to come back to. Missouri is always going to occupy a special place in my heart. Thank you, steadfast friends, for being a shoulder to cry on, a buddy to do life with, and for being my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for pushing me to be the best version of myself. I love you all so much. Thank you, Belmont faculty and staff, for teaching me how to become a life-long learner and holding me to the standard that you did. Even when I didn’t deliver, you remained faithful in my abilities and saw me more than a mere “work-in-progress.” You inspire me daily, and I hope to love students even half as well as you do. Finally, thank you, Lord, for being the reason for EVERY SEASON. Thank you for loving me, in spite of my flaws, and helping me lead a life of humility and service to You and Your people. I know I have a long way to go, and I pray that you will increase my faith in the days, months, and years to come. You are my beginning and my end, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I graduated Cum Laude from the Belmont Honors Program with a B.S. in Public Relations.

Well, that’s all for now, friends. I hope you realize how great of an impact you have had on my life, through the good times and the bad. I promise I will never forget any of you. In fact, I’m expecting some FaceTime calls from many of you, and I will be sure to do the same. 😉 Please remember that you are loved, and there is always a friendly face in Austin if you ever find yourself in the area. Until next time …

Simply Yours (especially you, Belmont),
Simply Lando

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