What is destiny?
Destiny refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual. It is a concept based on the belief that there is a fixed natural order to the universe.
Destiny vs. fate
Although the words are used interchangeably, fate and destiny are distinct things. Modern usage defines fate as a power or agency that predetermines and orders the course of events. Fate defines events as ordered or "meant to be". Fate is used in regard to the finality of events as they have worked themselves out, and that same finality is projected into the future to become the inevitability of events as they will work themselves out. Fate also has a morbid association with finality in the form of "fatality". Destiny, or fate, used in the past tense is "one's lot" and includes the sum of events leading up to a currently achieved outcome (e.g. "it was her destiny to be leader", "it was his fate to be executed"). Fate is an outcome determined by an outside agency acting upon a person or entity; but with destiny the entity is participating in achieving an outcome that is directly related to itself. Participation happens wilfully.
Different concepts of destiny and fate
Destiny may be envisaged as fore-ordained by the Divine (for example, the Protestant concept of predestination) or by human will (for example, the American concept of Manifest Destiny).
A sense of destiny in its oldest human sense is in the soldier's fatalistic image of the "bullet that has your name on it" or the moment when your number "comes up," or a romance that was "meant to be." The human sense that there must be a hidden purpose in the random lottery governs the selection of Theseus to be among the youths to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Many Greek legends and tales teach the futility of trying to outmaneuver an inexorable fate that has been correctly predicted.
Destiny may be seen as a fixed sequence events that is inevitable and unchangeable, or that
individuals choose their own destiny by choosing different paths throughout their life.