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Hard to find 1st & 2nd gears

For starters, I have a 98 4runner, manual transmission. I’m having trouble getting the shifter to go into 1st& 2nd gears. It’s as though things aren’t lined up properly & I have to apply pressure for a few seconds before it pops in. I could force it in, if Im’ in a hurry, but this feels to me like it might do damage. I did the “clutch test” as heard on Car Talk, & it stalled out right away. Does anyone know what’s wrong? If anything?

Shift linkage in need of adjustment?
Broken transmisssion mounts?

Which end of the neutral gate is reverse on? Is there a latch you have to push or pull to get it into reverse? If reverse is on the 1st/2nd side and there is a latch, then there should be an adjustable stop on the linkage beneath the boot. Try backing it off a bit to let the shifter go a little farther that direction.

Another problem can be engine or transmission mounts that have failed, allowing the transmission to shift sideways such that the shifter mechanism hits the hole through the floorboard.

However, the fact that it goes into gear if you press a while sounds like it could be that the clutch is not fully disengaging. You may be waiting for the syncros to slow down the spinning gears before they will engage. Does it grind if you try to shift into reverse?

A clutch that won’t disengage can be caused by clutch facings that are coming loose. I had one once on a Volvo that was caused by rust on the transmission input shaft. The clutch could not slide freely on the splined shaft because it was rusty.