What Is My Manifest Destiny?

Felicity Walston, March 2015


Statement of Purpose

I make plans in my head through images. To me, hearing a plan is not enough; I have to see an image of the plan or something related to it. Therefore, the best way for me to be able to imagine what it is that I am 'destined' to do is to put it in images. Additionally, I have included the ways that my Manifest Destiny parallels that of the United States. My goal is to display a gallery of images about or relating to what I believe is my Manifest Destiny and then describe my interpretation of those images.

My Manifest Destiny/Design

I am an inherently critical person - critical of people, of motives, and most certainly of claims that I have to follow a certain destiny. Naturally, I am critical of the idea of Manifest Destiny. I don’t believe in Manifest Destiny as much as I believe in that each person has choices to make about one's own habits, attitudes and life. Therefore, I tend to agree more with the idea of Manifest Design. I like how the phrase 'Manifest Design' has an active part: the person plays a direct role in determining the future, rather than in accepting what is predestined for them. I am a believer that my future is determined by my actions, work ethic, and mindset right now. The opportunities will have are not products of fate, but rather of the hard work of my parents or myself.

I often wonder about my faith. I am pretty certain that I have some sort of faith, not in a god, but in certain in my own habits and other things I have control over. I cannot have faith in things I cannot control, like my parents' choices or what someone will think of me. I can, however, have faith in what I can control, such as my work ethic or my attitude. To me, this reflects Manifest Design more so than Manifest Destiny.

Because I am not a follower of any religion, my life has no emphasis on an afterlife. Therefore, I can see life as more of a process than a goal to work my way into a decent afterlife. The end goal of my hard work is to please myself and possibly make others proud along the way. Other than that, I see my life as a process. I want to attend college so that I can get paid well to do what I like. I want to work hard so I can have a high standard of living and make my family proud, etc. Along the way, I also want to learn lots of languages, meet lots of people, and learn as much as I can about whatever I can. I am usually willing do whatever it takes to get to the next step or goal that I want in life. In that way, I tend to focus more on the process (one goal after another) than a single endpoint (one ultimate goal).

It is my belief that no one has a set destiny. We each have short-term and long-term goals that drive us, and only our attitudes and actions can determine the future. In the simplest way, we design our own destinies.


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Increased Nationalism --> Evolution of Confidence

The United States' vision of Manifest Destiny is intertwined deeply in the idea of American Exceptionalism. Manifest Destiny relies entirely on the idea that the U.S. is a unique place. Since the U.S. is the special 'City Upon a Hill,' isn't it destined to spread that speciality? If the U.S. is the perfect nation, wouldn't God want it to be bigger and even more influential? The era of western domination was dependent on American citizens' belief in the City Upon a Hill idea and pride in their own nation.

Nationalism, in that way, is reminiscent of the quality of confidence. In order for a nation to have pride in itself, it has to be proud of itself and its accomplishments. This means that the U.S.'s following of its 'destiny' is dependent on its confidence in itself.

What is the nature of confidence? How does America acquire it? To answer that question, I will ask instead: how do I acquire confidence? It's a tough question, because I, like the United States, am still young and haven't gained much confidence. The confidence that I do have I have to consciously acquire: I have to remind myself to be confident in what I wear, how I walk, when I speak, etc. I have to tell myself not to mind what other people say about me and be confident in my own vision of myself. (Refer the image of the quote about self-confidence.) I will admit that I do get some confidence from the faith I have in my own work ethic. For example, I have faith that I will always work to stick to the moral principles I believe in, no matter where I end up in life. I think the United States acquires its confidence similarly: it has to consciously praise itself on its good qualities and outwardly show an appreciation of those qualities. An example of this would be the freedom that the nation exists for. (Refer the image of the eagle, representing the freedom of the U.S.) In addition, I also believe that the U.S. gains some of its confidence from the faith it has in its own future. For instance, the U.S. has the confidence to call itself the most powerful nation in the world because it has the faith that it will remain more militarily and economically powerful than any other nation in the world for a long time.

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Westward Movement --> Wanderlust

There is always something bigger to achieve. A nation's greatness isn't worth much unless it can strive to be even greater. This is the mantra of the Unites States in justifying its westward movement as part of its Manifest Destiny. The U.S. had proven to itself time and time again that it was worthy of greatness, and it was only inevitable that they expand that greatness all the way to the Pacific.

In my own life, I want to move out west (Who doesn't think that California is amazing?). But I also want to move up north. And to Europe. You get the point - I just want to move somewhere else, not because I want to leave Durham, but because I want to find more places to meet people and experience things that I wouldn't be able to do by staying in Durham. (Refer to the quote above: "This town will . . .".) I am sure the U.S. had the same feeling when so many people were moving out into the western frontier. Their point of view is simple "Staying in the eastern half of the continent works fine, but why shouldn't they take the opportunity to dominate the west as well, if they could? (Refer to the map of westward expansion.) The risk of missing the opportunity to expand their greatness outweighs their fear of leaving the known American soil for an unknown expanse of land. (Refer to the quote above: "And then there is . . .".)

While I am not set on moving to a certain part of the U.S. for college (I'm also happy to remain in the Durham area), I am not afraid to move out somewhere I've never been before on the chance that it will give me more experience and knowledge that I could gain by remaining in one place. There is so much to learn, so many people to meet, and so much to see that I can't imagine staying in one spot my whole life, doing just one thing. (Refer to the quote above: "The world is too big . . .".) I have the faith to say that I will be able to work hard, and I have the confidence and dreams big enough to create a life that I can love and learn from.