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Herd Member | Adriana van Tilburg

My name is Adriana van Tilburg, I’m 38 years young and live in Germany. Through my work as a journalist I log a lot of miles. Some of my friends in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands have seen me in clothing with a zebra on it that say ‘Herd of Zebras’. For me this has a very special meaning as Herd of Zebras means:

“Every “stripe” has a story, intricately woven into the fabric of who we are, and who we will become. These stripes are forged by true grit, perseverance and trust. Through this simple philosophy, the lifestyle brand, Herd of Zebras began. The Herd celebrates individuality through an authentic storytelling of its Herd and comfy, bad-ass apparel and accessories. Feel good. Doing good. We create products designed to empower. We see stripes in place of scars, each bearing a unique story of true grit, endurance, and perseverance. Herd of Zebras is more than a brand. We’re a community of warriors living outside a black and white world. What sets us apart from the rest are the stripes we bare and how we earned them.”

Some know I have quite a few scars, and not only the small one from my skin cancer 5 years ago but also from the inside. I was bullied for most of my childhood and teenage years. So often I received and receive the question, why? I just don’t know most of the time what to answer… Should I answer I looked at a person in my class and he beat me up so badly later that I could have died, ending at the police station as a victim from assault. This happened twice with the same person. I understand I am being very personal in this blog, but I would like to say to all the people who are being bullied to stay strong because there will come a turning point if you keep trying.

The city and the people of Amsterdam saved me when I was 18, they accepted who I was and saw the beautiful person I had become. I didn’t accept that feeling that I was beautiful, I thought everybody was joking with me, I was an ice queen because I didn’t react on the attention of men. I loved to party in a big city where nobody knew me. I never used drugs, I danced on water and energy drinks. One of my best moments of that time was being helped on stage out of the audience by security and put up my middle finger to people who bullied me two years before that and I was one stage with Ferry Corsten at that moment.

In 2004 things went took a hard turn. I had to do an internship during my bachelor degree and my supervisor was digging into my past… At my internship I also had to work on the subject bullying in school; it was like Pandora’s box was opened. Together with some other situations I couldn’t handle myself anymore. To make a long story short I ended up in isolation for three days and then, in a closed psychiatric hospital for another six weeks and finally in therapy for a year that. At the end of my time in therapy they said, like nothing happened, “You are healthy, good luck with the rest of your life”.

I finished my bachelor’s degree (I do not give up on things). However, with my bachelor’s degree I could not find a job and I ended up  working as a groom at some amazing stables. I wanted to learn more about bloodlines of top horses in sport. My biggest support through all these year was a beautiful black Holsteiner, Josiane. I named my mascot after her, Josiberry. My parents have also been a huge source of support.

My best childhood friend got married this year, she has saved me many many times. We cried thinking of how far I have come. From being someone people feared would commit suicide many years ago, to fighting my way up to become a successful journalist. I never considered suicide because I had so many other beautiful things to live for. Sitting in the field with mares and foals would take the pain away from the beating and other interferences of my peers. I remember I lied often to my parents if I had blood on my legs or bruises somewhere else… I blamed the horses… But I didn’t want to stress out my parents and off course the found out.

This is what makes Herd of Zebras so special to me, now I am a part of a human herd. I know that I have some special friends around the world who may not physically be there to show it, it but I can feel their support. I have also been lucky to be part of a horse herd for years. This might sound crazy, but just days before I got hospitalized the horses I was taking care of took care of me when I brought them in. My two special mares had me in their middle and the foals and the other horses were around us. To see three adults with their jaws dropped on their feet was actually really funny.

Seven years ago I took a leap of faith and moved to another country. It has definitely had its ups and downs, just like everyone goes through. I made an extra jump to because a freelance journalist three years ago. It has been quite a challenge, but it is a challenge I chose myself.

I am looking forward to showing the comfy and beautiful clothes of Herd of Zebras to more people in Europe!

For more of my story you can follow me on Instagram: @adrianavantilburg