I just returned from a 6-day trip to England, where I attended the excellent MANCEPT workshops in political theory. Let me begin by saying that the organizers did a wonderful job with everything. A conference of that size has to be a logistical nightmare to set up, but everything went off (as far as I could tell) without a hitch. My experiences with international travel itself, on the other hand, is a very different story.
This is the second time I've travelled internationally in the past two months, and both trips were absolutely terrible. Why? Although I have no idea how representative my experiences are, let me just say that I do not do well with jet lag. Actually, "not do well" is a vast understatement, if ever there were one. Generally speaking, I am a pretty level-headed individual -- but both times I've traveled abroad I've been gripped by what I can only call a profound sense of anxiety, sadness, and a profound fogginess of mind, all of which, as I understand it, are symptoms of severe jet-lag, and which lasted a good 4 days, and led to this post. Now again, maybe I'm unrepresentative, but for those of you who haven't travelled abroad before, you have been warned. As far as I am concerned, my days of international travel are over. Both trips were that bad.
On the flip-side, my experience did have at least one positive effect. For a few days, I felt pretty embarassed by my post on my publishing travails. Goodness, I thought to myself, I publicly opened up way too much. I felt like my jet-lag threw my good sense out the window, and that I never would have made the post if I were in my right mind. And truth be told, I'm still a wee bit embarassed. But I learned a few things from the experience that I would like to share with you all. First, if you need help, ask for it. Many of us are not good at asking for help. I have never been good at it, and I have known many people who are bad at it too (particularly fellow grad students back when I was seeking my degree). Asking for help is uncomfortable -- but I can tell you this: it is even more uncomfortable in the long run not to receive the help you need because you never asked for it. This is sort of how I'm feeling at the moment. I think I probably could have published the darn paper in question a long, long time ago if I had just sought out more help than I have. But better late than never, I suppose. The comments and offers to read the paper I received from you all have really, really helped (thanks in particular to Kristina Meshelski for her paper comments and encouragement, as well as Brad Cokelet and all of you who shared your kind comments). Which brings me to the second point I would like to share: there really are good people out there who are willing to help and encourage you -- and share their knowledge and expertise -- if only you ask. It's all too easy, sometimes, to regard one another as competitors, or to worry that others will judge you and your work. It's important to keep in mind that there are a lot of people of good will out there. Don't be afraid to approach them, particularly here on the Cocoon. ;) Also, thanks again to you all. You helped salvage at least one person's awful week.