Recently I met up with a group of women who I now affectionately call my Kili sisters. These women were strangers to me, until 2016 when I embarked on a wild adventure to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I had no idea how important these other women would become to me and to each other at the time. Once introduced, we quickly bonded over our common goal, to make it to the summit no matter what.
We encouraged each other when doubt crept in, we cheered for each other when obstacles were climbed, and we challenged each other to dig deep and find the inner strength to take one more step when that too seemed almost impossible. The entire experience–though trying–was exhilarating and amazing in so many ways.
It restored my faith in the power of sisterhood.
In the recent years of force-fed reality TV, women have often been portrayed in the media to be weak, catty, deceptive, and competitive to the point of downright bitchiness. It seems modern society would have us believing that when put in groups, women do nothing but tear one another down. My experience on the mountain was just the opposite.
Though we were total strangers, on day one we quickly organized in harmonious fashion in the interest of working together, side by side, to help one another and push ourselves towards our daily summit. Sure, there were some tears and bouts of fear. But there was also an enormous amount of empathy, compassion, and encouragement given by all.
“No woman left behind” became the motto.
We spent downtime laughing over silly things like using makeshift devices to relieve ourselves in the midst of volcanic dust. We bonded with porters, dined by candlelight in the mess tent, and encouraged one another. When we could barely keep our eyes open from exhaustion due to the altitude and a hard days’ climb, we joked over the fact none of us had taken a shower in at least eight days. If you can’t find the humor and the ability to connect over the obvious side effects of that alone… I mean, we were a sight to see for sure!
Throughout the trip, I learned about each woman by asking those questions, listening to their stories, their struggles along life’s path and grew to understand and respect their life perspectives. There was also great power felt hiking in silence, just knowing that my new tribe of sisters were trekking and struggling right alongside me.
These women, whether they realized it or not, were part of a great adventure to bond, to develop new friendships, and to unknowingly help one another in some valuable and unspoken way by the end of the trip. Some learned how to face their fears through the guidance of others. Some learned how to trust a total stranger with their life in a precarious situation, and some learned how to let someone new into their circle and some learned how to be ok with opening yourself up and showing your most vulnerable side.
I learned there is incredible power in a group of women helping women. It’s far more profound and powerful than I had imagined.
The experience reinforced that sisters don’t need to be your flesh and blood, they just need to be in your tribe for a time to make an indelible imprint on your life. Good that keeps giving long after the adventure is over. Good that continues to bring out the best in one another and good that can nourish your soul in times of your highs and lows.
If you don’t have a tribe of sisters that you can count on, join the Mentors and Moguls Tribe and see for yourself.