In a Huffington Post interview, pro- wrestler John Cena revealed that he was bullied in school at a young age, and his resistance to conformity eventually contributed to becoming a superstar.
He also discussed the importance of showing vulnerability, and said that he believes school bullying is worse than ever.
“I haven’t really run into a lot of folks that say that they weren’t bullied as a kid. Nowadays, especially with social media, there is a lot of bullying going on.”
He seemed to have a quite clear memory of how he fit in, or didn’t fit in, in high school:
“I really never socially matched that well with kids as an adolescent or early teenager… but, I did feel comfortable in my shoes, I just got a lot of heat for it.
“But, I go back to my high school dynamic and there were like two kids who bullied people and they bullied everybody.” He added, “So, yes, I was bullied, but that goes along with a lot of people.”
The bullying spurred John Cena’s bodybuilding efforts. In an advert for Crocs, in association with his ‘Come As You Are’ campaign, Cena explains that he asked his dad if he could try to bulk up. Soon after that, the bullies stayed away. He did make a point to emphasize that he never sought out the bullies for conflict after he got the upper hand. So in a way, Cena can attribute his physique and his career to that early adversity.
Besides being a WWE superstar, Cena is now something of an amateur rapper, salesman, and entrepreneur, and movie star, having appeared in films along with the likes of Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.
Admirably, he is using his platform to promoting values like individualism and self-expression. The “Come As You Are” campaign is only one example.
Even in his wrestling performances, Cena says, “Showing those moments of weakness and vulnerability are hard, but it led to a lot of long term success.”