I had to change my name when we got married because we had to be Team Collins.
I loved my husband, but at the time, I loved my last name equally as much. For lots of reasons: it signified my family heritage, most of my friends called me by it, all that I had been and worked to become was wrapped up in that name. I knew the world as a Tegano.
“We have to have the same last name,” he said. “We’re a team now.”
“Team Tegano?” I smiled sheepishly, my counter offer a lame last attempt to hold on to what I knew of my past and of myself.
“Team Collins,” he said. “It’s a deal-breaker.”
I had deal-breakers, too, and when we called “deal-breaker,” it meant we were serious.
“Okay, this round goes to you.”
“No,” he responded quickly, “it goes to us.”
What I didn’t understand then that I understand today is that the “team” part was maybe more important to him – and us – than the name part. Almost a year-and-a-half of life after saying, “I do,” and over four years together has taught me that when it comes to life after marriage, you really do succeed and fail together. But what makes a team work?
I was never a team sports kind of girl. I played soccer and t-ball as a young kid, but it’s not where I thrived. Dance was my domain, and while working as an ensemble was essential to success in the dance studio, my performance was mainly a reflection of my work and my growth. Dance taught me to be there for others but it kept the focus squarely on myself.
Marriage, however, is really a team sport. We fail, I fail; we win, I win. It’s an interesting paradigm shift to shape your goals and concept of self around another person. I fought it, I always have. Maybe because I didn’t want to give up the sense of control over my own destiny I thought I sometimes had. What if I became unbearably happy and then it was taken away? What if I built my life around someone and that someone left me or failed me? Would there be enough Tegano left to keep going?
Fast forward to today. My husband has reached a milestone moment in his career. (Because he is not as interested in sharing the details of his life as I am, I am respecting my teammate with ambiguity but trust me: today’s a super big day for him). The thing is, it’s a super big day for us.
Anyone who has fought for a dream over an extended period of time, gotten knocked down, been stalled, made gains, retreated, and then flew forward knows the road to victory is a struggle. The connection we form towards the people and ideas we most struggle for is deeper than the connections forged by smiles and flowers. It’s the things most fought hard for that we appreciate and love the most. Witnessing his work, supporting his efforts, and dreaming his dream made it mine too. And for the first time, I truly feel deeply accomplished because of someone else.
So, what makes a team work? Perseverance. If you never give up, you can’t really fail. The fearlessness of a team unafraid of failure can conquer anything. In team sports, in marriage, in life – we need the support of others to get there. And we need to draw on our inner strength to keep going no matter what.
“You did it,” I said with pride. “I am so incredibly proud of you.”
“We did it,” he corrected me.
It’s a good day for Team Collins.
Jeanine Tegano Collins is a dreamer and lover of all things impossible and magical… sometimes making the normalcies of day-to-day life less than enthralling. Thankfully, she has a loving husband who reminds her of the virtues of reality. To understand the space between the fairy tale and reality – of life and marriage – she writes. When she’s not writing, Jeanine is busy dancing with her high school students. Check back every Monday for life after the honeymoon and follow Jeanine on twitter or friend her on facebook.