Thesis Statement Speed-Dating Activity & Self-Awareness

Yesterday my students seemed to enjoy a peer-review activity sans technology. For one minute they met one another's thesis statements, commented and then kept moving on, a la speed-dating. Then they had time to revise and try more rounds. While they could have done this on Google Drive, this was an opportunity to meet one another face-to-face, which is good.
My night class and I meeting some "hot" thesis statements
This personal literacy autobiography essay is a bit genius; but of course, all the greatest ideas are never my own. Through this assignment, I am learning so much about my students, and I think they are learning about themselves as well.
At this point in the writing process, I am discussing depth-of-thought with my writers because this type of writing demands it. Many students are writing this essay about instructors or books they like, but very little of their essays are describing who they are as readers, writers, thinkers, meaning-makers, etc. In addition to some nice student samples, we read a fabulous essay by Sherman Alexie, "The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me," in order to observe a writer "going past the sandbar" (my metaphor of the day in class) in writing.
I was having an interesting discussion with a student during my "office" hours. She was struggling quite a bit with expressing who she was as a reader and writer. I began interviewing her about her own literacy, and she described how her schooling in Mexico was very different from the U.S. (her only experience with U.S. schooling is higher education).
In so many words, she expressed how she was never asked to reflect on anything in school; she specifically used the words "introspection" and the lack of this mode of thought in her schooling experience. She admitted she did not have practice in considering who she was. She was frustrated with this assignment because she is beginning to understand that discovering who she is as a reader and writer would force her to look at who she is as an individual.
So, she and I worked on a thesis describing this, and she has some ideas pulled together about lack of self-awareness, educational systems, etc., but the important thing she began to understand is that her disconnection from reading and writing stems from her own lack of introspection.
I think she will discover that she does indeed connect with reading and writing a lot, especially as a music major, but we shall see.
My students' struggle with this essay makes me think of the famous line from Socrates: "the un-examined life is not worth living;" and perhaps a dark retort to this inspiration is from Saul Bellow: "But the examined life makes you wish you were dead". I certainly don't want them to feel that hopeless.
 These are their journeys; I'm just on another boat, past the sandbar,  screaming at them, "Don't be afraid! Come out a little further!"