Son of Pakistani American immigrants, Shahjehan Khan grew up as an average American young person in the suburbs of Massachusetts. When 9/11 happened, he remembers being a senior in high school, sitting in a calculus class. 

At that time, he was already a struggling teenager, which also marked the beginnings of heavy substance use. By the time he got to college, he dropped out after a year, came home, and had his first suicide attempt. 

His experience made him realize it was okay to be a multifaceted person because he felt there were all these little pieces that never felt like a cohesive whole. 

The Birth of the Podcast

Shahjehan hosts the King of the World podcast, which explores his life as a Pakistani American Muslim in the post-9/11 era, 20 years later. 

When he was first approached to tell his story, he didn’t want to tell another 9/11-centered Muslim story because he was sick of it. Then he realized he could frame it in a coming-of-age way, being able to show the parallels of his own personal struggles with what was happening in his outer world post 9/11. 

Shahjehan Khan initially wrote about what happened in his life from 2001 all the way up to 2020 and what was happening nationally with all the political and social events. Then from there, he brings people from his life to talk about their experiences during that period. 

What You Can Do to Help Bring Collective Healing

Be open to conversations and don’t try to run away from them because you don’t know how to approach them. Fortunately, a lot of people are now having these kinds of conversations which is a good starting point for people of color to feel seen, heard, and valued. 

There are these unspoken traumas and judgments out there, and there’s no voice yet for it until it comes together as a society. If you are a white person, be more aware of how trauma could manifest in people of color so you can understand them and appreciate them more. It’s very important that we’re able to bring all that stuff to the surface so we can all heal, not only individually, but as a nation. 

Our traumatic experiences can manifest in ways that are not always visible, and so, we have to be open enough to explore them. Take the risk to look inside and share them so that we can heal and we can figure it out and integrate all the different parts of ourselves to live our best life. 

If you want to learn more about Shahjehan Khan’s journey, check out Episode 171: Addiction and His Personal Struggles in a Post-9/11 World with Shahjehan Khan