You might ask, what do cicadas symbolize? What are cicadas a metaphor for?
Cicadas, for many, represent personal change, renewal, rebirth, and transformation.
Unlike a butterfly, moth or other insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis, cicadas have no pupal state. They transform from one fully-functioning state (instar) to another — one viable form, in a small amount of time, changing to another. The cicada’s transformation is closer to that of a human beings. If a person wants or needs to make a change in their life, they don’t enclose themselves in a pod and emerge the next spring (I suppose some might) — more likely they remain in their human form as they change.
A lot of people use cicadas to symbolize their own personal transformation, in art, song, poetry or even a tattoo. The cicada inherently symbolizes what they were (nymph) and all the glory of what they have become (adult form).
Watch some cicada transformations: