Hmm, good question: I think when I was doing my A levels I was a bit disappointed, but mainly because I am very tough on myself (which is stupid, really). The thing is I am actually super lazy in a way, so I am trying to get away with the least work needed while still getting good grades – how ironic is that? 😉
But I suppose in Germany we were not under that much pressure back in the day. So you could still get to University even though you may not have had the best grades and there is not such a distinction between the best and the normal Unis. At the end of the day, grades are only a snapshot really, they should not determine who you are or what you can do. There is a lot of research out there that a high number of successful people did not do well in school – probably because they were bored ;). Just think of Albert Einstein, he basically failed maths. And when he was working on his General Theory of Gravity, it took him years because he had to learn the maths required for his work.
So back to my experience now, I am actually still very tough on myself. And I have to let go of the idea that I will get a distinction in all my courses, I will have done something amazing when I have finished my degree as I worked full-time and that will be enough for me (or so I try to tell myself)