Have you ever been enticed by a cake and then been disappointed when you took that first bite? Or been annoyed by a film that promised so much with such a great cast and yet turned out to be a dud? Appearances can be deceiving.

People can fail to measure up too: they may look great on the outside but once you learn a bit more about them they may turn out to be far less beautiful on the inside. It’s something my mother always said to me when I was younger, and I didn’t believe her. Surely, I thought, no one wants a facially disfigured boyfriend or girlfriend? Not true, of course, although it would take me many years before I finally realised it for myself.

Here’s the thing, though, we as facially disfigured people, may look different, but on the inside we can be witty, charming and beautiful. Too often we fail to give most people credit for being more tolerant of our face than we expect. While there are some who will judge us before they ever get to know us, many others will be delighted to learn more about us. And after awhile their initial surprise (and occasionally shock) on first meeting us will be replaced by genuine friendship and, who knows, possibly love. But we must take that first step to mix with people without fear.

Just because you look different doesn’t mean you should set yourself apart from others. Giving in to your fears is too easy. It means you don’t engage socially with others and cut yourself off from the outside world. What is important is how you adapt and learn to use the force of your personality to charm others. I know because I fought a long and painful battle to conquer my reluctance to simply talk to people. That lack of confidence and fear were my greatest enemies in trying to live a normal socially engaged life. You may look different to others but don’t add to your pain by acting differently.

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane says ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. He was talking about footballers’ attitudes, but it could be applied to us: if you think too little of yourself don’t be surprised if others do too.