The most accepted definition is someone who is born and raised in Stockholm proper, and can say the same about both their parents and grandparents. These narrow criteria rule out virtually everyone I know in Stockholm, and go against everything I feel about the city and its people.
To me, the typical Stockholmer is not the kind of Bajen-loving semi-hooligan getting shit-faced at the places around Medborgarplatsen, or even the snotty Östermalm brat spending daddy’s money on champagne at Stureplan, although these types are most likely to fit the description above.
Instead, my true Stockholmer is somebody who grew up in the rest of Sweden – ‘out in the countryside,’ as born-and-bred Stockholmers would put it – and now lives in Stockholm because they can’t picture themselves living anywhere else in Sweden. They are here by choice, rather than geographical chance.
I’m not just talking about all the countless musicians and fashion designers. I’m thinking about the PhD graduate who left the academic world for Stockholm to do research for a global company (my brother), or the computer geek who taught himself to create web pages in the early 90’s and moved to the capital to set up one of Sweden’s biggest web advertising agencies (a former class-mate). Or maybe the girl who left Pajala in northern Sweden with dreams of design and ended up as art director of one of Sweden’s biggest fashion magazines (one of my best friends).
People with talent, but also determination. What defines true Stockholmers in my eyes, is their hard-working go-getting attitude. No time for siestas! Or, maybe more correctly, no need.
If it’s too cold and dark to go out nine out of twelve months, you might as well work. And if you work all the time, you’d better find a job that is fun. And when you have found a job that is fun, you might as well try to be the best at what you do, since you don’t mind putting in all the extra time required to achieve it. Boom – this is why Stockholmers are so good at what they do.
According to a 2011 study from Price Waterhouse Cooper and Partnership for New York City, ranking 26 large cities in 10 different criteria of success, Stockholm was ranked world leader of innovation.
In this year’s Global Information Technology Report, published by the World Economic Forum and measuring to which extent 142 economies take advantage of information technology for their growth, Sweden came first.
It doesn’t have to be rocket science – it can be something as simple as selling socks in bright colours over the net – but we still make sure that it becomes an international success.
The bottom line is: when we do something, we do it thoroughly and strategically and aims at being the best. That’s the Stockholm spirit, and this is what defines the people who live here, wherever they’re from. And who cares about definitions anyway. According to the “Welcome to my hometown” signs at Arlanda, the Swedish queen is a Stockholmer – born in Heidelberg, Germany.