Through a series of unfortunate events and traumas, I've been unable to work in any shape or form for over ten years. Worse I've been isolated much of this time and have become out of touch with my network and references. I'm also very introverted.
I'm in my early 40s now and previously worked as a research assistant on various short-term grant-funded projects (my degree is in sociology) for college postdocs. My treating physician suggested I could now start rebuilding my life and to start with volunteering. I also feel that I'm ready too, except it seems impossible to break through this wall.
The problem is work requires references and apparently volunteering does too. I've looked at a number of office position volunteering at various organizations, hospitals, etc. and it seems that they all require an interview. They have a whole list of interpersonal/work-related skills and experience they expect you to have. It gives me anxiety just to read through them. You'd think you were applying for a paid position in government.
Originally I wanted to get a loan, study and maybe get a masters, so I thought through education I would be able to get references and some part time work maybe leading to permanent job later. It was the same story as above, except now there are also requirements for recent coursework, minimum grades, X years of work experience related to your field, etc.
It seems that no matter what, it's the same problem. How do I break through and secure a position at an organization which is glad to have someone filling in instead of putting them under the microscope? Funny the other day I'm looking at this volunteering job that requires just going and sitting/talking to patients in the hospital, and it said they're looking for a person with "great interpersonal skills", "energetic", "confident", etc. All I'm thinking is that I actually need a position so I can acquire these skills, so I can regain my confidence and improve skills I have not used much in these years. But that's not what they're looking for...sigh.