I used be apprehensive of any dragonfly that got too close.
As a kid, I’d see a few darting along the tops of the hedges, but avoid them. They’re so big for bugs. You would not assume this was helpful for anxiety. But a dragonfly is a great spirit animal for the anxious.
Then, after nearly 10 years in New York dealing with giant cockroaches, I developed a more tolerant attitude, towards everything. Living in the city is good like that.
Now we live on a farm with a pond and I adore the dragonflies we share this place with. As nymphs, they’re aquatic. In their “fish” form, they breathe through gills and eat mosquito larvae, among other things. I love them for that.
As much as five years later they climb up a plant, into the air. They start breathing. They crawl out of their skin and emerge with four iridescent wings. Then up: They can fly in six directions. I mean, come on.
I was outside with a friend who grew up in the Maryland countryside last week, gushing about the dragonflies.
“They’re so friendly and gorgeous,” I said. I’ve spent many a sunny afternoon with three or four resting inches from my legs. My dog, June chases them and I swear they hover by her nose, teasing her.
My friend was rolling his eyes, “Yes, Wendy, the dragonfly is cool,” when one landed on the bench next to him, presumably sunning its wings.
“See?” I said.
“OK, they are pretty cool,” he admitted.
I even read in the excellent memoir Faery Tale, One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World, that older civilizations thought fairies used the dragonfly as a common disguise. I would too.
The best thing my admiration of these lovely bugs has lead to? Dragonfly meaning.
Meaning of the Dragonfly
As a symbol, or spirit animal, the dragonfly is the representative of flexibility and adaptability – which also happen to be two of the most important qualities people dealing with anxiety need to cultivate.
Anxiety locks us into a world of absolutes.
- If I don’t get this job, my life will be ruined.
- This relationship is my entire world.
- If they are mad at me, they must not love me.
- If I don’t earn X amount, I’m a failure.
And on and on.
But we are so much more adaptable than we realize. If the water recedes, we all have the ability to work at crawling out of our shells and spreading our wings.
Dragonfly on lotus flower via Flickr user Bahman Farzad.
Dragonfly resting via Flickr user David Heise.