As a child I felt rather detached, emotionless. It meant that often I seemed and indeed felt unsympathetic, and I've wondered to what extent that's a lingering effect. But I was not heartless; I just couldn't well understand things I hadn't experienced. Thus the rise of empathy in my life. Similar, but not the same. It felt at times like I used empathy as a substitute for my missing sympathy, though. As a kid, in an effort to show I was not a callous, unfeeling person, I let that empathy take the fore, not quite exhibitionism, but perhaps a bit overboard at times.
Now, as I experienced manifold things I could empathize with for the first time in my life, I could only wonder how often I'd failed to even convey what was offered sincerely because it had seemed instead like an expression that devalued the experiences of the person I'd offered it to.